Obstruction, tariffs, and subpoenas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the sports section…

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

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

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

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Trump gets two wins for the week – a first

And maybe a last.

Well it sure was an interesting week for Donald Trump.

While Trump said that “They [FBI] have free rein to do whatever they have to do,” but Trump’s counselor Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said that the reopened FBI checks into Kavanaugh would be “limited in scope, it’s meant to last one week, and … it’s not meant to be a fishing expedition.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that “Senate Republicans are going to lay out and dictate those terms, and we look forward to this wrapping up so we can see what was seen in the last six investigations that Judge Kavanaugh has been a part of.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that the FBI will interview a handful of people and only take direction from the White House, not the Senate and said the White House sent the limited parameters of the investigation to the FBI based on a Senate request. Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that Senate Republicans were working with White House counsel Don McGahn, who was “trying to make it as narrow as possible.”

The Democrats sent in a list of 29 people that should be interviewed properly to be satisfied. Something tells me the FBI will not be doing them all [told or otherwise].

Trump decried the “trauma” Kavanaugh has been subjected to in the confirmation process. Ummm. Would that be more than Ford or for that matter either Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh’s family? Ford has to relive it. [I am assuming she did go through the assault.] “Certainly, if they find something I’m going to take that into consideration,” Trump said when asked about the FBI investigation. “Certainly, I have a very open mind.” That is questionable.

Days later Trump said that Kavanaugh’s “life is in tatters. A man’s life is shattered. His wife is shattered, his daughters. … ” Well, next time, do some actual research on a nominee instead of putting this liar’s family through this mess.

Trump told the rally crowd in Mississippi, “I don’t even know him. I met him for the first time a few weeks ago. I don’t even know him. So it’s not like, ‘Oh, gee, I want to protect my friend.’ ” Great. He doesn’t even know his own nominee.

Trump tweeted that the people he sees at his rallies are “really angry at the vicious and despicable way Democrats are treating Brett Kavanaugh.” Of course – they’re all Republicans! He called Democrats who are against Kavanaugh “evil people” who want to “destroy people.”

The Democrats claim that any judge appointed to the Supreme Court should have an impeccable record – both as a judge and personally. The fact that there are three that accuse Kavanaugh shows that he may not be the perfect candidate.

Trump’s mockery of Christine Blasey Ford sparked an immediate backlash among two critical Republican swing votes on the nomination of Supreme Court hopeful Brett Kavanaugh, with Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins pointedly rebuking Trump. Speaking at a campaign rally, Trump cast doubt on Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by mocking her for not knowing the answers to questions such as how she had gotten to the high school party where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, an allegation he has repeatedly denied. Trump previously called her testimony “credible”.

“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. … It’s kind of appalling,” said Flake in an interview. Collins said they “were just plain wrong.” If Trump loses the Kavanaugh, vote he could only blame himself for it now.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway responded with “She’s been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us…” [Doesn’t she know smoking pot is illegal?]

Trump is criticizing female protesters who confronted senators over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he is calling them “paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad.” Trump described the women as “rude elevator screamers” and said they have “professionally made identical signs.”

At press time, Trump may have got his wish as Kavanaugh will squeak by with the confirmation. Unlike all other Supreme Court justices before him, Kavanaugh was the hardest to confirm ever.

The US, Canada and Mexico squeezed in before the US deadline to update the North American Free trade Agreement. The new deal has a new name: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Trump can claim a victory and a check next to one of his campaign promises. While there were some changes, was it really a big difference?

US farmers will have better access to the Canadian dairy market, there is a change regarding autos that may not affect Canada much and Chapter 19, which is a way to resolve trade issues, is staying put. The US lost every Chapter 19 complaint so far.

“I then will submit it [USMCA] for approval to Congress where in theory there should be no trouble — but anything you submit to congress is trouble, no matter what,” Trump said. What a positive guy! He then added “…we’re [Democrats] not going to approve it because that’ll be good for the Republicans, so therefore we can’t approve it.”

Trump also said “truly historic news for our nation and indeed for the world.” I don’t think the world really cares much about a deal that doesn’t involve them.

“Just for those babies out there that talk about tariffs — that includes Congress, ‘please don’t charge tariffs’ — without tariffs, we wouldn’t be standing here,” Trump said. “I can tell you, Bob and all of these folks would not be standing here right now.” This comment was made because number of Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan — have expressed opposition to tariffs.

Some experts claim the new trade agreement is just a change of names that Trump likes plus some expected changes [such as copyright and shipping duties] and a few issues [Canadian dairy management and Mexican labor wages]. But Trump whined since before the election that the NAFTA deal was the worst deal ever according to him. So he didn’t change much.

Between the new NAFTA deal and Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Trump can claim two victories. Major? I doubt it except to him.

China says it deplores a controversial new clause [section 32.10] in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that calls on the countries to notify each other if they enter into trade talks with a “non-market” economy. Some say it gives the Americans a veto over Canada and Mexico pursuing free trade with China.

Trump helped “his parents dodge taxes” in the 1990s, including “instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to amass a fortune from them, according to an analysis from The New York Times. Denial from the Trump family of course.

Trump and his siblings helped his parents build their wealth by hiding millions of dollars in gifts in a “sham corporation,” according to the Times. The President assisted his father in taking “improper tax deductions worth millions more.” He also helped to “formulate a strategy” for his parents to undervalue their real estate holdings on their tax returns to reduce their tax bill.

Trump’s older sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, has kept a very low profile since he ran for office. But it appears as though she inadvertently had a central role in The New York Times blockbuster report on her brother’s alleged tax schemes. One of the Times key findings was a financial disclosure form from Barry’s Senate confirmation proceedings in 1999 to be a federal appellate judge.

Go figure out this one: Trump, at a news conference, told reporter Cecilia Vega that “That’s OK. I know you’re not thinking. You never do,” and the initial transcript said “thinking”, but to maybe remove the insult, the White house revised the transcript within 24 hours replacing “thinking” with “thanking” even though the video clearly says “thinking”. Isn’t changing any presidential text illegal?

At a rally in West Virginia, Trump said “When you see people who are angry and mean and nasty and untruthful…” He was going after Senator Diane Feinstein when those words can describe himself more than her.

Regarding what they call “Laughtergate” at the UN during Trump’s speech at the UN, Trump said “The fake news said people laughed at President Trump. They didn’t laugh at me. People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done.” Seriously? It was a comedy show?

Deeper into his speech, Trump had this warning for the other 180 plus leaders: “We are taking a hard look at US foreign assistance … Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and frankly are our friends.” And I would guess the number of friends have dropped in the last two years.

Just after California Governor Jerry Brown signed a state net neutrality bill in defiance of federal regulations, the Trump Administration asked a court to block California from attempting to restore Obama-era rules requiring open access to the internet.

The measure prohibits internet service providers in California from stratifying users and websites by who can pay for faster surfing speeds and service. If the law stands, broadband providers including Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. will be blocked in the state from slowing traffic on their airwaves while charging consumers for faster access.

The Trump administration is quietly moving to weaken U.S. radiation regulations, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight. They already have targeted a range of other regulations on toxins and pollutants, including coal power plant emissions and car exhaust, that it sees as costly and burdensome for businesses.

[Reducing regulations is not surprising for Trump. After all, him and most of his cabinet came from big business. If this saves companies more money (at what medical costs), these people could indirectly add to their pockets some of the profits that are in blind trusts or in the case of Trump, should be.]

Melania Trump is in Africa visiting a few countries. She will be checking out daycare centers and hospitals funded by a US government agency. Problem is that the Trump administration have signaled that they will cut 30% of the funding.

Steve Bannon suggests Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti could go toe-to-toe with Trump in the 2020 election.

Kanye West opened up the season for Saturday Night Live. At a commercial brake, he stayed on stage and had a pro-Trump rant. He was booed by quite a few of the people in the audience.

Trump claims that West was told he could not wear a “Make America Great Again” hat after the show but he did. Now who cares what he wears offline?

Being like his father, Donald Trump Jr. claims West was bullied by Saturday Night Live staff. Seriously? Didn’t hear West complain. [And speaking of bullying….]

In another dumb comment from Donald Trump Jr., he told Daily Mail TV that he worries more for his sons than his daughters in the current political climate, saying he is concerned they may one day face false sexual misconduct allegations. If his sons have done nothing wrong, nothing to fear.

 

Did Trump Sr throw Jr under the bashed in bus?

Donald Trump Jr. downplayed the meeting between top campaign aides to his father and a Russian lawyer, saying the highly scrutinized engagement “ended up being about essentially nothing that was relevant” to questions of collusion. Trump Jr. said the session lasted 20 minutes, and maintained the central focus was on adoptions — even as he conceded the Hillary Clinton dirt was how the Russian lawyers secured the meeting in the first place.

He decried media scrutiny surrounding the episode, saying it was an attempt to deter attention from his father’s accomplishments. [Which are?]

So Trump Jr. tries to downplay the meeting even though his father said it was about  dirt on Clinton. Donald Trump Sr. tweeted that his son met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer to collect information about Clinton. But 13 months ago, Trump gave a far different explanation for the meeting, saying it was about the adoption of Russian children.

It may not be collusion [seems to be a favorite Trump term] but if Trump Jr. said in a statement to federal investigators that he was there for the adoptions and now his father said it was about dirt, it could cause legal issues such as perjury.

Trump has been urged to stop tweeting about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s top advisers and several Russians. His tweets are only making things worse for him.

Trump defended calling the media “The Enemy of the People,” and said journalists “purposely cause great division & distrust” and can “cause War!” No. Politicians cause wars if they don’t know the history of a conflict [and don’t have a huge ego]. As for division and mistrust, it depends on what kind of angle a journalist will cover. Politicians who use some journalist as their intelligence source instead of intelligence professionals will cause problems.

As the Trump administration readies to re-impose sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear accord, America’s European allies fear greater regional instability. The sanctions cover Iranian trade in automobiles and metals, including gold. It revoked licenses that allowed Iran to purchase US and European aircraft. Iran acquired five new European commercial planes before the sales were cut off.

UN inspectors said Iran was complying with the deal, but Trump argued that it didn’t do enough to curb Iran’s malign activity in the region. European countries say they remain committed to the agreement, seeing it as the surest way to safeguard their national security.

Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is under federal investigation for tax fraud and possibly misrepresenting his finances. Authorities are investigating whether Cohen underreported his income in federal tax returns, in which he reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last five years. Cohen is already facing in relation to his business affairs and work with Trump.

The Government Accountability Office concluded that the Department of Homeland Security has not conducted a full analysis of the costs of building the Trump Wall. Department officials have also not properly documented their plans for building a portion of wall in the San Diego area. Because of this the Trump administration is at risk of wasting some of the billions of dollars it wants to spend on the US-Mexico border wall.

White House adviser Stephen Miller is pushing to expedite a policy that could penalize legal immigrants whose families receive public benefits and make it more difficult to get citizenship. Concerns over potential lawsuits have delayed the final rule, and the draft has undergone numerous revisions.

The law has long allowed authorities to reject immigrants if they are likely to become a “public charge” — or dependent on government. But the draft rule in its recent forms would include programs as expansive as health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act as well as other programs.

More than 700,000 foreigners who were supposed to leave the United States during a recent 12-month period overstayed their visas, the Homeland Security Department said and this excludes those who came by land. An estimated 40 per cent of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally stayed past their visas.

And of course what has the Trump administration done about it? That’s right. Nothing. These 700,000+ are in the country illegally and are mostly not running away from hardship and death like those coming to the US illegally.

US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington halted a deportation in progress and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt if the mother and daughter weren’t returned to the US. If they fail to comply, the judge said, Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior Homeland Security officials would have to convince him not to hold them in contempt of court.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and reality TV star, claims in her forthcoming book that Trump’s re-election campaign offered her a lucrative contract in exchange for her signature on a strict non-disclosure agreement after her ouster from the administration last year, according to an excerpt quoted from the book.

Lara Trump, a campaign adviser and Trump’s daughter-in-law, extended the offer to Omarosa [as she uses] shortly after White House chief of staff John Kelly fired her for “serious integrity issues,” according to excerpts. Omarosa also made [further] claims that Trump is a racist by making some comments. If she didn’t care for him, why did she stay?

The day after Trump’s appearance, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a prominent GOP critic of Trump, said he asked Republican Troy Balderson [running in a special election] if Balderson invited Trump at all into the district in the Columbus suburbs. “He said, ‘No, I didn’t,'” Kasich said of Balderson. On stage with Trump, Balderson called himself “someone who will fight for President Trump’s economic agenda.” Is Balderson flip-flopping or just keeping an option open to blame Trump if he loses.

Trump tweeted “When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting.” Ya. Right Donnie. It was neck and neck for weeks and the GOP won the seat for 30 years and 11% in 2016. [And what was 64 to 36? After 100 votes counted?]

At this time, Balderson was leading by under 1% [or about 1800 votes] with 99% of polls reporting. Republicans declared victory for the Balderson, but Democrat Danny O’Connor has not yet conceded. More than 3,400 provisional ballots have still to be counted. A margin of 0.5 percent or less triggers a mandatory recount in Ohio.

In any case, it doesn’t look good even if Balderson won. Plus they go at it again in 3 months.

In the Republican primary for Kansas governor, Trump endorsed Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known for his crusade for restrictive voting laws, over incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer. In doing so, he ignored the pleas of the Republican Governors Association to stay out of the race. Kobach — who publicly backed Trump’s false claim that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 and who advocates a hard-line approach to immigration — could alienate Republican voters in areas like the Kansas City and Wichita suburbs.

The Trump administration announced that it will go ahead with imposing 25 per cent tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese imports. Customs officials will begin collecting the border tax Aug. 23, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said. The list is heavy on industrial products such as steam turbines and iron girders.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stabbed Canada in the back again. First, it was the G7 Summit. Then they imposed tariffs on Canada. Now, it seems with a diplomatic fight between Canada and Saudi Arabia over the latter’s human rights abuse, supposedly Saudi Arabia asked for the Trump administration opinion on applying sanctions against Canada and the Trump administration didn’t object.

Trump doubled steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey to 20 and 50 per cent, deepening the rift between them and sending the country’s currency into a tailspin. Trump slapped sanctions on two Turkish officials earlier this month over a detained American pastor who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges.

Trump’s in-laws are officially US citizens, obtaining their citizenship through the sponsorship of their adult daughter, Melania, one of the very categories of family visas that the administration has sought to end. Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are from Slovenia, had been living in the US with green cards. Melania Trump sponsored her parents for their green cards, a status that allowed them to live and work in the US indefinitely and paved the way for citizenship.

In the sports section, again, NFL players are kneeling during the national anthem which prompt Trump to tweet “Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love.” So does he know why they are upset? And of course he had to imply they are rich and yet having an easy life. Most of them won’t have lengthy careers because of injuries.

He added “A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway.” This from the man who wanted to buy the Buffalo Bills. If he thinks owners get little out of it….

NBA superstar LeBron James claims to CNN’s Don Lemon that Trump is using sports to divide the US. This prompt Trump to tweet “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” [Note that he couldn’t even spell James’ first name correctly.] James said he wouldn’t sit down across from the President if he were given the opportunity.

Trump also added “I like Mike!” in reference to Michael Jordan. “I support LeBron James. He’s doing an amazing job for his community,” Jordan said through a spokeswoman.

Trump has always aimed at various celebrities and others that have commented negatively about him [politician Maxine Waters, Robert De Niro, etc.]. But aiming it at an African-American follows the white supremacists ideology that African-Americans have low intelligence. This resulted in a chorus of tweets against Trump.

Even Melania Trump went against her husband by saying in a statement “It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has…” James recently opened a school in Los Angeles and offered to pay for school fees.

“Who’s the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages? #BeBest,” Lemon tweeted the morning after.

The now-disbanded commission that Trump set up to investigate election integrity did not find evidence of widespread voter fraud, a former member of the panel Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, Matthew Dunlap, citing internal documents he obtained related to commission activities. Trump disbanded the commission which you can conclude with this that there wasn’t any major fraud.

Trump tweeted that the wildfires hitting California are “being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.” Trump said the water is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Trump also called for clearing trees to stop the fires from spreading.

Of course even if the water was diverted, it isn’t stopping the land from being so dry because there has been little rain as well as little snow in the winter. As for clearing trees, does he want a state with no trees?

A resolution to request the removal of Trump’s star’s was unanimously adopted by the West Hollywood City Council but is not legally binding as the city has no jurisdiction over the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The mayor said “Earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is an honor. When one belittles and attacks minorities, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities or women — the honor no longer exists.” We’ll see how trump reacts on Twitter especially if it is removed.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which does have jurisdiction over the iconic tourist attraction, said Trump’s star was safe for the time being. No stars have ever been removed.

The Trump administration wants to reduce national monuments and protected areas so it can help big business in areas that have valuable land for development and resources. But in documents that were mistakenly released, tourism has increased in those areas adding more jobs. In some areas where there are near water, jobs could be lost as development could kill off fish and other seafood in the areas.

Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen says he believes that special counsel Mueller will probably indict Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and then Trump will pardon both. [Although you never know. Ivanka may say not to pardon her husband!]

Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s attempt to acquire Tribune Media has been put on hold after the Federal Communications Commission said it had “serious concerns” about the transaction. The FCC had recently loosened TV station ownership rules that helped Sinclair close its deal with Tribune Media. That prompted the FCC internal watchdog to launch an investigation into whether the commission had improperly pushed for the rule change to benefit Sinclair. The change is also being challenged by public interest groups in court.

Meanwhile, Trump lashed out at the FCC  for not approving the deal. Sinclair is the largest owner of local television stations across the United States and is trying to get even bigger through the $3.9 billion Tribune deal. It’s also well known as a conservative-leaning media organization that forces its stations to run opinion segments supportive of the president and conservative causes.

The current version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions that place restrictions on the president’s authority to direct generals to launch cyberattacks. NDAA in its current form also requires the president to develop and abide by a cyberwarfare strategy document that describes which activities merit cyber retaliation. It also could limit retaliatory attacks by the military without a certain level of confidence in attribution.

Trump says it would be “a dream” to run against former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Trump said that former President Barack Obama took Biden “out of the garbage heap.” CNN polling from January 2018 found Trump lagging behind Biden in a hypothetical 2020 match-up by a 57% to 40% split. Biden would turn 76 just after the next election. If he won he would be the oldest president ever.

Ex-Fox New Analyst, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, says that Trump echoes Stalin in the way he governs. [Maybe that’s why he is not at Fox News.]

A group called Qanon is showing up at Trump rallies. They are a group that send out really ridiculous conspiracy theories such as 9/11 was a hoax, Sandyhook shooting as to push for gun control, Tom Hanks & Steven Spielberg [note: 2 well known Democratic supporters] are pedophiles, etc. While “Simpleton” Sanders said Trump condemns and denounces the group he still allows them in [maybe because they are Trump supporters].

So far, five sitting GOP member of the House have lost statewide primary in 2018 many of whom began their races as the favorite only to be passed by a candidate running as an outsider to the Washington system.

A lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association in May says the gun advocacy organization will have to close its headquarters, shut down its online media presence and stop holding rallies and conventions if it is stymied by New York state from doing business with banks and insurers.

The lawsuit, when it was originally filed in the US District Court for Northern New York, came days after the Department of Financial Services fined several insurance companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for participating in an NRA-backed liability insurance program for gun owners. They are a big supporter of Trump, of course.

[A reminder that this blog is primarily about the “life” of Trump. It is about anything related to him. For example, much of the Paul Manafort isn’t mentioned as it isn’t about Trump at this time. And as a further reminder, I don’t include the title “President” in front of his name unless it was included in a quote or a tweet.]

Hot summer and politics is heating up as well

Longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed. Weisselberg has served as something of a jack-of-all-trades for Donald Trump. He worked for the Trump Organization and the Donald J. Trump Foundation, yes, but he also handled personal stuff – up to and including tax returns … and apparently consulting with Cohen on how to handle paying for the rights to a story about an alleged Trump affair with a Playboy Playmate, just two months before the 2016 election.

Weisselberg has now been tied to both the potential Karen McDougal payment (his name is also mentioned a released tape recording) and to the payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who has also claimed an affair with Trump, in which he set up Cohen’s reimbursements from Trump.

The probe has clearly expanded into Trump’s business, which constituted Trump’s previously expressed red line. It could also mean investigation into possible abuse of the organizational structure to serve Trump’s personal purposes.

A dozen audio recordings seized by the FBI from Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, were forwarded to federal prosecutors after lawyers dropped challenges on attorney-client privilege grounds. The recordings were among millions of files taken from Cohen in April as part of a criminal probe of his business practices

Barbara Jones, a court-appointed lawyer and former Manhattan federal judge helping to decide which of the seized files are protected by privilege. She Jones notified US District Judge Kimba Wood, who appointed her, that Cohen, Trump or the Trump Organization had designated 4,085 items seized from Cohen as privileged among the most recent items she reviewed.

She wrote that she agreed that 2,633 were privileged, in full or part, but that 1,452 items were not. She said lawyers for Cohen still disagreed about 22 of those items but said they would not pursue their objections. With that, Jones released them all to prosecutors.

In another audio tape, recorded by Cohen, Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing how they would buy the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair she had with Trump years earlier, which Trump has denied since the subject first came up. So he lied [again].

Trump tweeted “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?” Again, is he that dumb that no lawyers record conversations with clients? I guess he never told Cohen not to record their conversations.

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis says the only people who use cash in large transactions are drug dealers and mobsters. Davis is a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

Cohen claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.

If Cohen can show federal prosecutors credible evidence that Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower Russia meeting of June 9, 2016 — as Cohen now reportedly claims — Donald Trump Jr. could be facing perjury charges. Trump has repeatedly denied being told about the meeting before it happened but apparently never to federal investigators or under oath.

Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a “pathological liar.” “I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” the former New York City mayor said. Giuliani lost his credibility since joining Trump.

Now special counsel Robert Mueller was also looking at Trump’s negative postings on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump asserted without evidence that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page “confirm with little doubt” that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant. But lawmakers from both political parties said that the documents don’t show wrongdoing and that they even appear to undermine some previous claims by top Republicans on the basis for obtaining a warrant against Page.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said the documents detail “just why the FBI was so concerned that Carter Page might be acting as an agent of a foreign power… It was a solid application and renewals signed by four different judges appointed by three different Republican presidents.”

Page said “I’ve never been the agent of a foreign power” but had described himself as an “informal adviser” to the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he didn’t think the FBI did anything wrong in obtaining warrants against Page.

Members of Congress are pushing back against a floated White House idea of pulling the security clearances of top former intelligence officials in the Obama administration who have criticized Trump.

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that Trump is “exploring the mechanisms” to strip clearance from former CIA director John Brennan, along with former FBI director Jim Comey, former national intelligence director James Clapper and others. Comey’s assist said his clearance was already pulled [as in didn’t they check?].

Simpleton said that Trump was considering revoking the clearance for their comments about Trump regarding “accusations of improper contact with Russia” or him “being influenced by Russia.” Doesn’t this sound like a dictatorship? If you can’t agree with the leader you get booted.

To make this happen at the agency level, Trump could follow the decades-old executive order in place, which provides a written explanation to the clearance holder and an opportunity to reply. Officials could also try to invoke the “interests of national security” clause, which is found in that section, and avoid the detailed procedures. Finally, Trump could decide he is revoking eligibility for the former intelligence officials unilaterally.

In a tweet, pro-Trump supporter Sen. Rand Paul claimed that Brennan could be “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media”. No proof of course but could it really be because Brennan harshly condemned Trump’s performance at the Poutine press conference calling it “nothing short of treasonous.” And yet several House Republicans have accused Brennan of political bias and not Paul for suggesting in pulling Comey’s clearance?

Trump tweeted “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!” With just the first sentence, you would think that Trump finally admits that Russia has done some hacking. But that second sentence throws that out the window. Is Russia going after the Democrats and not him or want the Democrats to win? [Scratch your head.]

Trump appeared to return to a previous position that Russia’s election interference was a story dreamed up by Democrats to excuse Hillary Clinton’s defeat — despite saying in a scripted statement recently that he held Vladimir Poutine personally responsible for it.

After Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was dumbfounded with his on-camera reaction at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado, to the breaking news about the invitation to Poutine to the US, the day after he said “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President.” This after Trump wasn’t too happy with the way he acted.

After the Kremlin was only lukewarm on having Poutine visiting Washington [so soon after the Helsinki mess], the White House announced it was pushing off plans for a second Trump-Putin Summit in Washington, DC, scheduled for this fall – just a few weeks out from the 2018 Midterms. Now set for sometime in 2019. Of course why did it take over a week for the Kremlin to decide….

Did Poutine somehow signal to Trump that it probably wasn’t in their mutual self-interest to be seen in public together so soon after Helsinki — particularly after the trashing Trump received after returning to Washington? Multiple senior Republicans were against the idea of a visit.

But Poutine said he is ready to go to Washington and has invited Trump to Moscow, but there “has to be necessary conditions” [which weren’t mentioned]. Simpleton says no invitations received. Stuck in the Email.

The White House rejected a Poutine-backed effort to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine on the region’s future, distancing itself from the idea in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial summit with the Russian leader.

Poutine’s gift of a soccer ball to Trump last week set off a chorus of warnings – some of them only half in jest – that the World Cup souvenir could be bugged. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina even tweeted, “I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.” Markings on the ball indicate that it contained a chip with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones. But rather than a spy device, the chip is an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball. The chip allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball.

Republican House Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan escalated their fight with the Justice Department, introducing a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In a statement, Meadows said Rosenstein should be impeached because of the Justice Department’s stonewalling of congressional subpoenas and hiding information from Congress, and for signing one of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant renewals for Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended Rosenstein, saying he has “the highest confidence” in him one day after House conservatives introduced a resolution to impeach the deputy attorney general overseeing the special counsel Russia investigation. Of course “the highest confidence” with this administration means nothing.

A Russian anchor says that Trump is blaming US stupidity for bad US-Russian relations makes him smell like a Kremlin agent.

US District Judge Denise Casper denied the Trump administration’s bid to throw out a lawsuit that alleges its decision to end special protections shielding Haitian, Salvadoran and Honduran immigrants from deportation was racially motivated. She also rejected the administration’s request to remove Trump as a defendant in the case.

The Trump administration was warned State Department in October 2017 that ending US protections for more than 300,000 Central Americans would strengthen and grow MS-13 and gangs that President Donald Trump has called “animals”. They also warned that ending the “temporary protected status” program could also hurt US national security and economic interests, including by driving up illegal immigration.

Trump tweeted “Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate.” May if they are waiting in line they should rent some Port-o-Johns at the White House gates. So exactly who has stopped by?

According to a report, a week before Election Day in 2016, young men and teens in the [North] Macedonian town of Veles were running over a hundred websites that pumped out often false viral stories that supported rump.

The “news agency” was not launched by teens but a well-known Macedonian media attorney, Trajche Arsov, who worked closely with two high-profile American partners for at least six months during a period that overlapped with Election Day. One of those Americans, Paris Wade, is now running for office in Nevada. Arsov also employed other American and British writers, including at least one who currently works for US right-wing conspiracy site the Gateway Pundit.

But now Macedonian security agencies are cooperating with law enforcement in the United States and at least two Western European countries to probe possible links between Russians, US citizens, and the pro-Trump “fake news” websites.

In an 86-9 vote, the United States Senate has confirmed Robert Wilkie as our new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Trump won something! And he can’t blame the Democrats for this.

Trump will end releasing summaries of conversations he has had with foreign leaders, a policy that has been used for decades.

Trump said that he and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work toward eliminating tariffs and barriers on trade, reducing tensions for now in a brewing trade war. “We agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” Trump said.

Trump claimed that he struck a deal with the European Union that has “opened up Europe” to American exporters, in particular farmers, even though a substantive deal has yet to be signed. The discussions with Juncker yielded only a commitment to broad parameters for future trade negotiations and EU pledges to increase imports from the US.

Trump claimed he has “ended” efforts by foreign countries to abuse the US in trade and steal American jobs, even as the trade feuds he has engaged in are still ongoing on several fronts. Trump argued that the US has been “abused like no nation has ever been abused on trade before,” including by US allies. So how did he end it? Free trade with the world wasn’t announced.

The United States is taking the fight over steel and aluminum tariffs to the World Trade Organization, arguing retaliatory trade actions launched by Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico and Turkey violate WTO rules. The U.S. imposed the so-called Section 232 tariffs earlier this year on national security grounds. The retaliatory tariffs were considered not excessive. If the other countries counter with the WTO, they could argue that the national security reason is flawed.

The Trump administration announced it is offering up to $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs stemming from the Trump’s widening trade feud with other countries. Numerous Republicans including Trump ally Sen. Rand Paul said “Tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers. If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers – the answer is remove the tariffs.”.

Many of the Republicans whom blasted the Obama administration for bailouts during his first term have tough decisions. Handing out billions to the agriculture sector runs counter to conservative orthodoxy, but abandoning farmers who have struggled because of an escalating trade war may not be politically tenable with just months until the midterm elections.

The US Commerce Department sought feedback on Trump’s plans to consider taxing auto imports. It got an earful at an all-day hearing. Critics lined up to urge the administration to reject auto tariffs. They argued that the taxes would raise car prices, squeeze automakers by increasing the cost of imported components and invite retaliation from U.S. trading partners — and allies — like the European Union and Canada.

Auto tariffs would escalate global trade tension dramatically: The U.S. last year imported $192 billion in vehicles and $143 billion in auto parts — figures that dwarf last year’s $29 billion in steel and $23 billion in aluminum imports.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer faced pointed questioning from a Senate committee Thursday about the decision, and at one point was asked directly if Canada was a national security threat to the United States. “In the case of steel, yes,” he said. Lighthizer couched his remarks by saying no one was declaring war on Canada, and called the country “one of America’s closest friends and trading partners.” You can’t have it both ways.

Coca-Cola has hiked prices on its carbonated drinks in cans because the recently enacted 10% tariff on imported aluminum has made Coke cans more expensive to produce. It will be up to the retailer to decide on the increase. [Pepsi will probably follow.] In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the aluminum tariffs is “a lot to do about nothing” and U.S. customers wouldn’t notice.

At one point, with 1 day left as many as 914 parents won’t be reunited with their children by the deadline imposed by US District Judge Dana Sabraw. Judge Sabraw had said “The government has to be commended for its efforts in that regard.”

191 parents can’t be have serious criminal records or declined to be reunified. In other cases, 463 parents have already been deported without their children. 217 parents have been released from federal custody. Some may be wearing ankle monitors as they await immigration hearing proceedings. A small number still haven’t been linked to children, let alone tracked down. 260 parents’ cases require further investigation [can’t be tracked or unsure if the children belong to the parents]. But 1,012 is the number of families the government has already reunited.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on its NATO ally Turkey if that country does not release an American Pastor Andrew Brunson, currently under house arrest. Brunson was arrested in 2016 during a government crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities, that followed an attempted coup. Question is why now and not in 2016 or last year? [For once they’d do something right. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a real dictator.]

Trump tweeted “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.” Sounds like “shadow banning” means to reduce the visibility of some accounts. In this case, certain prominent conservatives. This is because a report that found Twitter’s search feature did not return prominent conservatives as easily as their Democratic counterparts.

If it was any other media [think CNN, Washington Post] Trump would of roasted them. But this is Twitter. His livelihood.

Trump retweeted from Dan Scavino Jr. “Lockheed Martin will add 400 workers to boost production of the F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive in U.S. history, after making a good on an earlier promise to President @realDonaldTrump to increase the aircraft’s workforce by 1,800.” So in the meantime it is the most expensive jet in US history. I though Trump was trying to cut costs? Where is the art of the deal?

Trump’s military parade in Washington is likely to cost nearly as much [an estimated $12 million] as the now canceled military exercise with South Korea that Trump called “tremendously expensive”. One may be briefly good for morale. The other is training. Which one is more useful.

The parade would focus on celebrating veterans and involve US troops in period uniforms as well as US military aircraft but no heavy vehicles like tanks in order to prevent damage to infrastructure.

Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was destroyed by a man with a pickax early Wednesday morning, according to the Los Angeles police. A man is in custody and is being questioned. Police said a man turned himself in at the Beverly Hills Police Department Wednesday morning. They better have plenty of spares.

Trump was upset that Melania Trump’s Air Force One television tuned into CNN on a recent trip.

The Democratic National Committee tried and failed three times to serve Jared Kushner with a lawsuit at his Manhattan apartment and was turned away by a US Secret Service agent when it attempted to deliver the packet to his Washington home, according to court filings. The lawsuit alleges Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with the Russian government to disrupt the 2016 election.

Trump tweeted about Amazon again with “Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their “delivery boy” for a BIG percentage of their packages….” Didn’t he whine months ago about this? He has done nothing. Another failure.

The Justice Department charged a Russian national, Mariia Butina, also known as Maria, with conspiring against the US as a secret agent as she infiltrated the Republican Party as well as the National Rifle Association and tried to access corporate leaders. This all occurred in 2015 through 2017. She had discussions of a possible pro-Russian conference that US members of Congress could attend. Wonder how Trump will respond.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has requested to return Butina. The Trump Administration denied the request.

In continuing their pettiness against CNN, the White House took retaliatory action against Kaitlan Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, after Collins asked President Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op. “They said ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,'” and she didn’t want to go anyways Collins said in an interview. “They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.”

To add to the lies, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One that Collins was barred not because of the questions she asked but because of her refusal to leave the Oval Office during an earlier pool spray. Other reporters who were with her have sided with Collins saying she wasn’t shouting, ask anything inappropriate or refused to leave.

 

And you thought the first week of the year would be quiet!

Happy New Year! [It can only get better!]

Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon for the early months of Donald Trump’s reign was interviewed in a new book by Michael Wolff called “Fire and Fury”. Among the quirks and news is that Trump didn’t want anyone to touch his toothbrush [poisoned], he ate at McDonald’s because nobody knew he was going there, Ivanka Trump would want to run for president at one point, Trump is semi-literate, he trusted his expertise no matter how irrelevant [even if someone else was an expert], dealing with Trump is like trying to figure out what a child wants, and Bannon called Ivanka “dumb as a brick”.

A June 2016 meeting [purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton] between Donald Trump Jr., other Trump people and Russian officials where Bannon called it unpatriotic and treasonous especially for not notifying the FBI then and Wolff writes that Trump believed his presidential nomination would boost his brand and deliver “untold opportunities” — but that he never expected to win.

Wolff was generally granted access to the White House with a “blue badge” instead of the traditional press badge, giving him wide access to the West Wing.

Wolff said in an author’s note that the book was based on more than 200 interviews, including multiple conversations with the president and senior staff. But White House press secretary Sarah [“Simpleton”] Sanders said Wolff “never actually sat down with the president” and had spoken with him just once. We hope that Wolff has taped some of his interviews, especially with Trump.

Trump unleashed on his former chief strategist and campaign chairman who was interviewed greatly in the book by saying “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party. Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory…. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base – he’s only in it for himself.”

Oh his statement above, it is so out there on numerous levels [and I am not defending Bannon].

Trump attorney Charles Harder threatened legal action against Bannon over “disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements” to block the book’s release – already a best seller. Of course Trump has threatened lawsuits previously and you know how many of those went to court. Harder said what Wolff did violated confidentiality agreements.

Bannon had criticized Trump and his family in recent interviews, mocking the president’s intellect, criticizing the operations of the White House and torching Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. Advisers have supposedly also tried to tell Trump that Bannon is not responsible for his win, that Bannon leaks damaging information to the news media.

Trump, not surprising, went after Wolff by saying “I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him…” So exactly how did he get access to the “blue badge”? Another security problem? And sources don’t exist as people made up? Surely they would have been easily verified [and sloppy journalism].

Sanders faced questions about Trump’s mental fitness to serve as president. “It’s disgraceful and laughable. If he was unfit, he probably wouldn’t be sitting there, wouldn’t have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the Republican Party has ever seen.” Sanders disparaged the book, calling it “complete fantasy” and characterizing it as “sad” and “pathetic.”

When asked about examples of falsehoods, Sanders said she couldn’t go through every page but pointed specifically to the claim that Trump didn’t know who former House Speaker John Boehner was. Did she actually read the book?

“I would certainly think that going after the president’s son in an absolutely outrageous” said Sanders. Why can’t they go after Trump’s kids? They are involved in the administration. They didn’t go after Trump’s two kids who aren’t. Considering Ivanka also got nailed in the book, Sanders didn’t defend her.

“Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation,” says Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee who gave a briefing to a dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate in December. ” Some knew of Republicans that were concerned, maybe equally concerned, but whether they would act on those concerns was their worry. … Mr. Trump is showing signs of impairment that the average person could not see,” Lee said. “He is becoming very unstable very quickly. There is a need for neuropsychiatric evaluation that would demonstrate his capacity to serve.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller is aware of an unsuccessful attempt by Trump to lobby Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia probe. Trump had ordered White House counsel Don McGahn last March to stop Sessions from recusing himself from oversight of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Oddly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have changed their tune, suggesting Sessions should stay in the job as long as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. If Sessions were to resign or be fired by Trump, then the President could install a new attorney general — potentially a loyalist who could influence the Mueller probe. Even a number of Republicans want Sessions to resign.

George Papadopoulos [a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign] told an Australian diplomat that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton in May of last year, a conversation that might have played a role in the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A few weeks before their meeting, Papadopoulos was told Moscow had thousands of emails relating to Clinton.

Trump leveled his latest criticism of the Justice Department, suggesting the executive department is part of a “deep state” that he believes has sought to undermine him.

Former Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin “…put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act?” Trump tweeted. Supposedly Abedin forward a confidential Email a number of years ago which included passwords to her personal Yahoo account. Some such as Trump believe it was Russian state sponsored hackers who hacked into Yahoo. Of course we know Trump believes in everything.

That didn’t take long. 252 minutes into the new year, Trump tweeted “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” No one knows what brought this on. I’m surprised he didn’t rib it in more at President Obama and President G. W. bush while at it.

The US is currently withholding over $250 million in aid at this time to Pakistan until Pakistan gets tough on ISIS and other terrorist organizations. However, some think Pakistan may turn to Russia for aid.

Trump, on New Year’s Eve tweeted “I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year.” Awe. Same to you. We will see where you are in 2019.

As well, he tweeted “People are much better off now not to mention ISIS, VA, Judges, Strong Border, 2nd A, Tax Cuts & more?” ISIS is better off now? Still unsure how things improved for Virginia [or is that the Veterans Administration?], a stronger border [still no wall], judges [he has yet to still hire more] and the 2nd Amendment [he hasn’t protected it more, just his NRA buddies have pressured him to do nothing after a couple of biggest mass murders in Us history].

Remember how Trump said after the tax bill that companies would pass their tax savings onto their employees? According to the White House’s own compilation and more recent announcements, only 16 companies in the S&P 500 have responded to the tax overhaul by raising wages, handing out bonuses or improving employee benefits.

For example, Wells Fargo decided to boost its minimum wage to $15 per hour and increase its charitable giving by 40%. That will trim just 5% [$215 million] from what they will save from the tax bill.

The tax bill may widen this: in the US, the richest 1% of families controlled nearly twice as much wealth in 2016 as the bottom 90%, according to the Federal Reserve.

Trump tweeted “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Seriously? The my button is bigger than yours? He is a man child.

Trump is now claiming credit that he was responsible for North and South Korea in talks for the North to join the upcoming winter Olympics. Sure. Was this after his nuclear button being bigger than Kim Jun Un’s button?

Growth in the Dow Jones during Trump’s first year in office to this point surpasses 17 of his predecessors since the Dow Jones industrial average was first formed in 1896 — trailing only Barack Obama, Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt [who’s first year was skyrocketing].

When Trump is at his Mar-A-Lago resort, things have changed since he first got his newest title. Partially for security reasons, he sits at one end when dining with the close family and others in the surrounding tables near him. A sort of buffer. It is also meant to keep the advice-givers, favor-askers and suck-ups at bay.

While Trump’s first few visits to the club were marked by frequent social media boasts from club members about their access to Trump — complete with photos — that has dwindled over the last few trips. Gone is the evidence of Trump dropping by weddings and fundraisers, replaced by people taking photos inside Mar-a-Lago and noting that they were told not to snap a shot of Trump.

At least 15 organizations [who have used the resort for years] have canceled events in his first year but replaced by Republican leaning events. There still was speculation of how much extra the resort [and indirectly Trump] charged the Republican events as he isn’t supposed to be making money elsewhere.

Trump claiming that what he has done made a difference when there was no deaths on commercial aircrafts last year in a tweet. But once again he is wrong. First, no the deaths statistic was for the world – not just the US. Second, there hasn’t been a commercial aviation death in the US since 2009 in Buffalo. That was during President Obama’s presidency and regulations came out after to the correct the problems after the investigation in the 2009 crash. Of course there has been many private jet crashes last year. He didn’t comment on those crashes and deaths.

Vice President Mike Pence’s neighbors hung a ‘Make America Gay Again’ banner outside his Aspen-area residence which were written on a rainbow flag, on a stone pillar that sits at the end of the driveways to both homes.

If you think another President will say this, good luck. What Trump tweeted “I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!”

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career. He has been a tremendous supporter…” actually Hatch wasn’t much of a supporter.

The US held a reception for the eight countries that vote against the UN resolution where the UN was against the Trump administration’s decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem. I’m sure it was a wild party.

Someone on Facebook said:

“Big Mouth on Netflix… crude, raunchy and completely hilarious.”

A response was:

“For a second I thought you meant that Trump is on Netflix….”

While not specifying Trump, “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter said in a blog post.

Is the US economy that great when Sears and K-Mart combined are shutting down another 103 stores soon?

The administration reversed two Obama era laws. One is about how to handle marijuana that is legal in 8 states and DC. Federal prosecutors could go after anyone in those states even though legal. As well, offshore drilling moratorium near Maine, Alaska, California and the Gulf of Mexico has been tossed out. Most of the states affected plus [of course] environmental groups aren’t happy.

Took them a year…… No more personal phones in the West Wing, where the president and most of his closest aides and senior staff work. The reason? They’re a security risk, said a statement sent by Sanders.

Trump Jr now in the spotlight

Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had a meeting with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya [who has ties with the Kremlin] just over a year ago. Now it has been learned that there were others. A Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin said he also attended the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr as well as publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting. Now were are told there are 2 others.

According to lobbying records, Akhmetshin is a registered lobbyist for Veselnitskaya’s organization, which has focused on lobbying Washington to overturn the Magnitsky sanctions. Akhmetshin denied that he was ever an intelligence agent but said he did serve two years in a Soviet military unit that handled counter-intelligence. Sounds like an intelligence agent to me. [The Magnitsky Act allows the US to withhold visas and freeze the assets of Russians thought to have violated human rights.]

Was Trump Jr. hiding this? How can he forget?

Seems one day earlier when this issue came out, a statement from Donald Trump Jr. made no mention of Hillary Clinton. In his initial depiction of the meeting last June, the president’s son said the discussion focused on a disbanded program that used to allow American adoptions of Russian children. [In retaliation for some financial sanctions, the Russians put a freeze of adoptions of Russian children by Americans.] He had a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign occurred at the behest of a Moscow-based singer with family ties to Trump’s businesses, according to a participant in the talks. Reports say that Trump Jr. was told ahead of time that the source of the information was the Russian government.

When the attorney has negative information about Clinton that is part of the Russian government’s efforts to help Trump in the campaign. The then-candidate’s son responds: “I love it.” This new setback raises new questions about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow during the election, a charge the president has denied for months.

Trump Jr. released an email chain that shows him discussing plans to hear damaging information on Clinton that were described as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” This was before the meeting at Trump Tower with Veselnitskaya. The emails with music publicist Rob Goldstone show that Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government had information about purported illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee.

But he decided that her information was most likely bogus and she just wanted to contact his father. This was just after Donald Trump clinched the nomination.

In a statement, Trump Jr.’s New York-based attorney Alan Futerfas called the Times report “much ado about nothing.”

Veselnitskaya stated in an interview with NBC that she had no information about Clinton. Veselnitskaya said she received a phone call from a man she didn’t know and was told to meet with Trump Jr.

Vladimir Poutine’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the Kremlin is unaware of a meeting between Trump’s senior staff and a Russian lawyer, that it doesn’t know who Kremlin-linked lawyer Veselnitskaya is. Veselnitskaya’s clients include state-owned businesses and the son of a senior government official whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting.

This all started because Kushner filed a revised version of a form needed to obtain a security clearance. His attorney has previously acknowledged that Kushner’s first security clearance submission was incomplete. Kushner supplemented the list of foreign contacts three times, adding more than 100 names, people close to him said. Kushner played down the significance of the meeting and omitted significant details, according to two people who were briefed on the exchange.

Over the last few days, members of the pro-Trump media have settled on their answer, characterizing the lawyer, Veselnitskaya, as a leftist with ties to the Obama administration. She part of a sinister Democratic plot to entrap the Trump campaign. Of course this was started more than a few days after this story broke. So the pro-Trump media is inventing ways to try and quash the story and came up with this one. Of course only the right will believe it and expect Trump to tweet it. Even Republican [and anti-Trump] John McCain is in on it. I guess anyone – Democrats or Republicans will be a target.

Senator Tim Kaine, said Donald Trump Jr. may have committed treason when he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer under the pretense of getting dirt on Clinton. “We are now beyond obstruction of justice. This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and not a fan of Trump, said any time you’re in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government the answer is “no.”

The chief ethics lawyer to George W. Bush, Richard Painter, also likened it to treason. Barack Obama’s White House counsel, Bob Bauer, said it’s illegal to assist foreign nationals seeking to influence a federal election, illegal to solicit their help, and illegal to co-ordinate with them.

Trump has questioned the quality of advice he has received from senior staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus. There has also been a difference of opinion within the West Wing as to how to handle the crisis, with some aides favoring more transparency than others. Some of the unhappiness centers on Trump’s legal team, which is led by New York attorney Marc Kasowitz.

Trump blasted the current Russia controversy as “the greatest witch hunt in political history” while defending his son as being “open, transparent and innocent” during his interview with Fox News [where else?]. Trump later lashed out against Hillary Clinton, charging her with unspecified wrongdoings. “Why aren’t the same standards placed on the Democrats. Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!” he tweeted.

Trump said he had not been told last summer that his son was meeting with a Russian lawyer. “No, that I didn’t know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this,” he said.

Former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and several of her Democratic colleagues called for Jared Kushner’s security clearance to be revoked “immediately,” saying that he “clearly participated in collusion.” – let alone forgetting information on his SF-86 security clearance form. Except for the fact that he supposedly left the meeting early, Kushner also should of known better and not attend the meeting. It remains unclear whether Kushner was briefed before the sit-down with Veselnitskaya. Kushner had previously undisclosed calls to Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak and undisclosed meetings with Kislyak and the CEO of Vnesheconombank, a state-run Russian bank under US sanctions.

Here’s another thought: you are the son of the presidential nominee. If someone wants to meet you during an election campaign – whether foreign or not – you can almost assume that the meeting isn’t to discuss sports. Trump Jr. was a fool to personally attend such a meeting. Other campaigns would have used surrogates.

“It’s an honor to meet you” is what Trump said to Putin at the G20 meeting . Ya. Right.

Trump initially said there would be some type of cyber security deal with the Russians which surprised even people within the Republican Party. But later on backtracked said there was no deal – more like preliminary talks. This after most in the US believe the Russians tinkered with last year’s election.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted: “Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit'”.

On a 30 hour trip to France, Trump said the French President’s wife “You’re in such good shape. She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.” This in front of his own wife. Wonder what she was thinking. She’s 64. Media is calling it sexist.

Trump Jr. tweeted a video of a doctored clip of the 1986 military thriller “Top Gun”. In it, President Donald Trump’s face is superimposed over Tom Cruise’s character as he shoots down a Russian jet with a CNN logo on it. Trump is seen in the clip repeating his “you’re fired” catchphrase before launching a missile.

CNN said that it has confirmed the real and online identities of the individual behind the original CNN video shared by Trump. CNN also found a slew of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic posts from the same user. CNN says it spoke to the video creator by phone after the apology was posted. CNN left the door open to identifying the user in the future, should he go back to his “trolling” ways. Donald Trump Jr equates that to blackmail and somehow knows that the video creator is 15 years old. Maybe he or someone near his father hired the author?

In adding further sanctions against Russia and Iran, a bill has been stalled. The bill would require a congressional review if Trump attempts to ease or end penalties against Moscow. I would guess this would have to be related to Trump’s suspected ties with Russia. Officials from the Treasury and State departments said the provision would infringe on the president’s executive authority.

Trump tweeted that sanctions against Russia at the G20 meetings were not discussed at his meeting with Putin. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders contradicted Trump, telling reporters a day later that “sanctions specific to election-meddling were discussed” in the meeting.

Trump on Twitter claimed that the White House “is functioning perfectly” and claiming that “I have very little time for watching T.V.” Yes, at least 10 of the Trump’s tweets since Monday have been about TV shows or links to videos from the Fox News Channel.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University are suing Trump, saying some of his critics have been unconstitutionally blocked from following him on Twitter by asking a judge to stop Trump and his media team from blocking critics from following his personal account.

In another no-brainer, Trump tweeted that he is “working hard to get the Olympics for the United States.” He was pushing for Los Angeles bid. Unsure why. The IOC will choose one city for 2024 and another for 2028 – and there are just 2 cities left: Paris and Los Angeles. So what is there to “work hard” for?

Hackers breached the systems used by 14 different Trump Hotels properties between August 10, 2016 and March 9, 2017, managing to steal sensitive information like guests’ credit card details and other personal information. Trump Hotels informed customers that hackers managed to breach the systems of Sabre Hospitality Solutions (Sabre) and not its own systems, though it confirms that personal information has been exposed.

The Trump administration removed Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology equipment, amid concerns the cyber security firm’s products could be used by the Kremlin to gain entry into U.S. networks. The action was taken “after review and careful consideration.” Government agencies will still be able to use Kaspersky products purchased separate from the GSA contract process.

Last month the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a defense spending policy bill that would ban Kaspersky products from use in the military. The move came a day after the FBI interviewed several of the company’s U.S. employees at their private homes as part of a counterintelligence investigation into its operations.

A Bloomberg Businessweek article claims Kaspersky Lab can “quietly embed the software in everything from firewalls to sensitive telecommunications equipment-none of which carry the Kaspersky name,” going on to say that it does much work at the behest of the FSB, which is the successor to the KGB in the Russian spy world. Kaspersky vehemently denied the accusations. Bloomberg even claimed Kaspersky Lab’s chief legal officer was a KGB officer when he actually worked for the Border Service.

The Director of National Intelligence and the heads of the CIA, NSA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency unanimously told the Senate Intelligence Committee they wouldn’t trust, or use, Kaspersky software in their work.

The Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, at the center of a political firestorm over his encounters with associates of President Donald Trump, is leaving his post — but Russia says the move is not unexpected.
An author released a book called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents From Wilson to Obama”. I’m wondering if the author can do a separate book just on Trump.