FBI investigation into Trump intensifies while Trump acts like a child

And I thought last week was busy.

Donald Trump, in response to reports that the FBI began an investigation of him last year to find out whether he had a clandestine agenda to help Russia, said that former FBI director James Comey and other “losers” at the bureau “tried to do a number on your President.” He called Comey a “total sleaze” and “crooked cop.”

The inquiry forced counterintelligence investigators to evaluate whether Trump was a potential threat to national security, and they also sought to determine whether Trump was deliberately working for Russia or had unintentionally been influenced by Moscow.

Trump tweeted “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!” Except he thinks a few FBI “leaders” considers as the leaders of all of the FBI. There are 35,000 people at the FBI.

Regarding the New York Times story, on Fox News, Trump said it was “the most insulting article I have ever written“. Umm. He didn’t write it. [Note: I emphasized the “written” part.]

He claims no other president ever taken a harder stance against Russia than he does. So not Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and others during the cold war – unless he considers Russia and the Soviet Union not the same or similar.

From BuzzFeed, two federal law enforcement officials said that Trump directed former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen to claim negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended months earlier than they actually did and that Cohen confirmed to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that Trump issued the order to lie to Congress.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.” But the information didn’t come from Cohen but the two federal law enforcement officials. As well, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office disputes report that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress. The BuzzFeed report has a checkered past.

Cohen hired an IT firm to rig online polls in favor of Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Cohen promised to pay $50,000 to the small tech firm run by the evangelical Liberty University chief information officer to help distort online polls on CNBC and the Drudge Report. Cohen claimed it was carried out “at the direction and for the sole benefit of Donald J. Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”

Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Poutine, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former US officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Poutine in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. US officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

Trump retweeted “No one accused Obama of being a Russian agent after he asked for “more flexibility” until after the election, or when Obama ignored Putin’s invasion into Crimea, or when Assad used chemical gas in Syria and Obama’s red line was crossed.” So the tweeter claimed Obama did nothing in all cases? Meanwhile, under Trump’s watch, Assad used chemical gas against civilians, and did what? And Russia is still in the Ukraine and Trump has done what?

Giuliani says he never claimed that there was no collusion involving the Trump campaign, and that he only ever said this about Trump himself. “I said the president of the United States – there is no evidence that the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC [Democratic National Committee].” Sounds like he’s throwing the campaign under the bus. Giuliani just contradicted 18 months of “no collusion” talk.

Trump responded to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s letter suggesting they reschedule his State of the Union address by informing Pelosi that an apparent trip she had planned to “Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed” while the government shutdown continues. “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”

The President of the United States has the authority to direct the Defense Department to not use military assets to support a congressional delegation to military theaters. This support includes air transport and additional security procedures.

As usual Trump got it wrong. The Pelosi delegation headed to Afghanistan with a stop in Brussels for pilot rest as well as to say hello to NATO. No Egypt on the itinerary. Meanwhile, Trump went to Iraq during the Trump Shutdown as well as a separate delegation with Rep. Lee Zeldin. Some WH staff [all Republicans] are going to Davos for the World Economic Forum even though Trump isn’t going. So for Trump to kill the Pelosi delegation’s trip was childish and had more to do with her request to delay the State of the Union address than the Trump Shutdown.

Pelosi said she received a report from Afghanistan that said “the President outing our trip had made the scene on the ground much more dangerous… We had the prerogative to travel commercially and we made plans to do that until the administration then leaked that we were traveling commercially and that endangers us.”

Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, issued a memo officially banning all congressional delegations from using taxpayer-funded aircraft ” without the express written approval of the White House Chief of Staff”. Except it was Trump who denied Pelosi.

Trump plans to offer Democrats another proposal to end the shutdown for what officials are describing as his third offer to end the shutdown. Trump’s idea is to put something on the table to get Democrats to engage with negotiations. Trump is not expected to back down from his demand for a border wall, but the plan will seek to entice Democrats by offering other concessions.

With the government mired in shutdown week four, Trump rejected a short-term legislative fix and dug in for more combat, declaring he would “never ever back down.”

Trump has now been briefed on an alternate plan to divert billions of dollars, earmarked for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, Texas and elsewhere, to pay for his Trump Wall.

When a group of House and Senate Democrats were on a retreat in Puerto Rico, Trump argued that they were partying on a beach rather than negotiating. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who have been the negotiators, were not on the trip.

Trump has made explicitly clear he will not support reopening the government before a deal on border wall funding is completed and GOP Leader McConnell’s position remains unchanged – he will not bring anything to the Senate floor without Trump’s support.

“The government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: the Democrats will not fund border security,” Trump said. Actually the Democrats want to include money for border security – just not the Trump Wall.

The White House has been trying to peel moderate Democrats away from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Its first effort at that strategy failed when moderate Democrats were invited to the White House for lunch – and they didn’t show. Another group will attend but they have no clout. So a free lunch.

“We’re going to stay out for a long time if we have to,” Trump said in a meeting with supporters. “We’ll be out for a long time.”

Trump was supposed to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January but blames the Democrats for the shutdown for him not to attend. Steven Mnuchin and Mike Pompeo will lead the US delegation at Davos.

Because of the partial shutdown, at least 80 US government web sites are running with expired certificates which causes problems with web site security and other issues. In addition, with government employees not working [and if contractors involved, they aren’t getting paid], computers throughout the governments are running unsecure because of the lack of maintenance including patches.

The Trump administration keeps designating more and more of the federal government essential, or excepted from the furlough, ordering many thousands of workers back to the office to process tax returns, perform safety inspections and more — all without pay. 36,000 IRS workers are now forced to work without pay.

Federal courts, which are not controlled by the administration, have now twice announced that existing funds could help their work force limp along with pay. The latest guidance is that court offices will run out of money January 25, at which point essential staff will work without pay.

Food and Drug Administration food inspectors, who hadn’t been inspecting food since the partial shutdown began  would return, without pay, to start inspections again. The Federal Aviation Administration announced it would recall an additional group of furloughed employees adding thousands of unpaid workers to the air traffic controllers.

Delta airlines is claiming that it lost  $25 million revenue this month. Fewer government contractors are traveling and the shutdown could delay the launch of the new Airbus 220 jet, which is scheduled to go into service on January 31 from New York’s LaGuardia. FAA inspectors, who are currently furloughed, need to certify the airline’s operational plans.

Many federal employees are scrambling to make ends meet. Some have turned to GoFundMe to raise money for living expenses. But what they could be doing is illegal. The federal law the government employees might be running afoul of is part of the United States Code that deals with the salaries paid to government officials and employees, under a section called “Bribery, Graft and Conflicts of Interest.” In a nutshell, it says federal employees aren’t supposed to supplement their salaries with outside income.

Trump cited a number from a Montreal researcher to prove his argument that the US needs the Mexican border wall on which he wants to spend $5.7 billion. The researcher replied to Trump’s tweet saying that while walls have been built, research shows that they are ineffective. There are 70 walls built with and 7 could be built as they have the funding.

Some estimates suggest that the US economy loses $1.2 billion each week the shutdown continues.

The web site to report identity theft is shut down because of the Trump Shutdown. 25,000 identity thefts per day [yes – per day].

A federal judge in New York has struck down the Trump administration’s proposal to reintroduce a citizenship question into the 2020 census. The ruling effectively puts a freeze on a deeply contentious move that critics said would discourage non-citizens from participating in the Census. The Justice Department has said it needed better data on the voting age population to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Trump was told when he wanted to leave Syria within 30 days that ISIS was not defeated. He had to be convinced. Eventually he relented and slowed down the departure. This past week, US service members died in a US controlled Syrian area after an explosion claimed by ISIS.

Love this tweet [and it wasn’t even fixed] “Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House. Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!” I will have a hamberder with cheese. At 85 football players and around 15 coaches that averages out to 10 hamberders per person [excluding pizza, fillet-o-fish, nuggets, fries and maybe something healthy like salad. In a separate video he said 300 hamberders. More like it.

Food served on white china and silver serving trays. Very classy.

With about 85 players [usually the amount on a team] and maybe 15 coaches [usually the amount on a team] plus Trump and a few extras, even with 300 hamberders, that is almost 3 per person [plus the Fillet-O-Fishes, pizza, fries, etc.].

In addition, did he pay out of his own pocket? Did he expense it? Did the burger chains give it for free [can they?]? Maybe big Clemson supporters paid for it. Most likely.

He also tweeted [since deleted] that he was going to a farmer’s convention in Nashville when it was actually in New Orleans.

Trump claims that he hasn’t been following news surrounding Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s recent comments to The New York Times which were sympathetic to white supremacists.

In 2014, Trump, ahead of the fundraiser, said King was a “special guy, a smart person, with really the right views on almost everything.” Trump also told the newspaper that his ideology is so in sync with King’s that “we don’t have to compare notes.”

Trump retweeted from Donald Trump Jr. “Since January 1, neither CNN nor MSNBC has booked a single Angel Mom – mothers of children brutally murdered by illegal aliens.” Are they supposed to? A new law?

“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” Trump tweeted. Aside from the fact that it is a racist comment, he just can’t get away from this Pocahontas stuff even though she admitted about her heritage.

Trump lashed out at acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney during a Situation Room meeting with Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, earlier this month. “Stop, stop, just stop — What are you doing? You’re f—ing it all up, Mick,” Trump said, according to the official who was in the room for the negotiations. Well I guess Mulvaney may not get the job now.

Trump retweeted: “Prior to 2018, unemployment has only been below 4% 5 times since 1970 Under Donald Trump, in 2018, unemployment dipped below 4% 7 TIMES-in ONE year!” Hmmm. So it dipped below 4% then went above 4% at least 6 times this past year. So every time it went over 4%, jobs were lost. Nothing to be proud of.

Trump said the US would “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region. He added, “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” but followed up in a second tweet, “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Another legal loss for the Trump administration. A California federal district court judge halted the Trump administration’s weakening of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, a day before the new rules were to take effect. The injunction, however, only applies in the coalition of 13 Democratic states, plus the District of Columbia, that brought the lawsuit. In his ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr., said the states “face potentially dire public health and fiscal consequences from the implementation of the Final Rules.”

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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.

 

And the shutdown continues, and he rants

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” Donald Trump tweeted. “Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!” So he’s becoming the Blackmail President.

He also said that he could kill the renegotiated NAFTA and the US would terminate aid with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which he said are doing “nothing for the United States but taking our money” if he didn’t get his Trump Wall money.

Meanwhile, he has been “President” for almost 2 years now. Why hasn’t he changed the laws? Blame everyone but himself. He is getting nervous because when the Democrats take over on the 3rd, not only will it be more difficult to get rid of the shutdown but he knows the Democrats will begin investigations in him and his administration. So instead of trying to tone down and be willing to compromise, he goes the other way.

Did he really write The Art Of The Deal? Because he seems to have problem making deals. North Korean deal? Nothing really came out of it. The new NAFTA deal? May not pass in at least 1 of 3 countries. Can’t seem to get a long term deal with the third shutdown this year.

Trump tweeted “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try! The two children in question were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol. The father of the young girl said it was not their fault, he hadn’t given her water in days.”

Holy craps! Where to begin. He’s been in office for 2 years and he hasn’t changed the policies of the Democrats even though he HAD a majority in the House and Senate. No water in days? Is that a federal regulation not to give migrant people water [or food or medical attention]? Bloody lying fool.

In a sign the deadlock will continue, Trump announced he would travel to Texas in late January to observe part of the wall being built – if there is a wall being built there as he claimed in a tweet “I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.”

Problem is the White House administration knows nothing about it. As well, where did the funding come from and whether there were any tenders as is required by government [this alone takes time]. If he is thinking of getting it from the battle over the shutdown, good luck there.

Trump tweeted “This isn’t about the Wall, …. This is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win.” Oh ya. For sure Donnie.

Trump claimed, without evidence, that “… many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall.” Yes. I’m sure he polled them all. He claimed “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?” The president of the American Federation of Government Employees [which represents 700,000 federal employees] debunked that by saying to his knowledge, workers are evenly split when it comes to the party they support.

Trump tweeted “Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence. It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it.” Yes. He asked them all and why. Not.

As if it can’t get worse for federal employees, Trump issued an executive order freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019 [for non-military employees], following through on a proposal he announced earlier in the year. The move, which nixes a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January. Merry Christmas from Trump the Grinch. Waiting for him to blame the Democrats on this.

In Trump’s Christmas Day talk, the drugs are flowing over the border, the Federal Reserve is imperiling the economy and the Democrats are preparing to harass him with oversight requests. “It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country,” Trump fumed after decrying Democrats as hypocrites. “But other than that,” he said, his hands gesturing outward, “I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”

Trump claims that drugs flow through the border but the DEA and DoHS say that drugs go through legal ports of entry. So who do you think is right?

Once again, no class from him. You look at any Christmas message – from the Queen of England to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – none of them complained about what’s going on in their countries [or equivalent]. Even go back to previous Presidents. They didn’t whine.

The Trump administration said it is appealing a federal judge’s order that blocks the administration from implementing asylum restrictions on the southern border.  Trump signed a presidential proclamation last month that would bar migrants who illegally cross into the United States over the southern border from seeking asylum outside of official ports of entry.

Trump is predicting “presidential harassment” – as he calls it – when the Democrats take over the house in under a week and begin investigations in the administration. Already, it looks like they will add another as another young illegal migrant died while in Customs and Border Protection custody. There are still over 15,000 migrant in US detention centers.

Trump continues on his rant against outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis by tweeting “We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade. General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!” So blaming on Mattis. He whines about issues like this and yet he knows about the subsidizing since before he became the US leader and has done nothing. Blame everyone but himself. And how do they take “advantage”? [Notice how I still don’t call him by his title]

The daughters of a Queens foot doctor say their late father diagnosed Trump with bone spurs to help him avoid the Vietnam War draft as a “favor” to his father Fred Trump, according to the New York Times. The Times did not find documentation to help corroborate the family’s account and one daughter was unsure whether her father ever examined The Draft Dodger.

Trump called some children across on Christmas. Sounds normal. Except he asked one 7 year old child “you still a believer in Santa?” Seriously?

Trump took a secret trip to Iraq to finally visit US troops in a war zone – first time in his term as Commander in Chief. So the 11 hour flight had Air Force One escorted by fighter jets, set with lights out and “windows closed”. Hmmm. I hope they were closed!

Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base during his surprise visit to Iraq, Trump told troops: “You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

Ummm. They have received raises every year. The last two years were over 2%. The last 4 years of the Obama administration were a bit under 2% But the first few years of the Obama administration actually went over 3%. For 2019, it will be 2.6%. Trump told the troops about the latest pay raise. “I said, ‘No. Make it 10%. Make it more than 10%.'” Retired General John Kirby said Trump’s lie to troops is “unconscionable”.

Trump tweeted “CNN & others within the Fake News Universe were going wild about my signing MAGA hats for our military in Iraq and Germany.” Ummmm. I was on CNN’s web site and they mentioned nothing about his cheap made in China hats. But how did those hats get to Iraq?

Trump has canceled his New Year’s plans at held at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, in order to remain in Washington until a deal over border wall funds is reached and the partial government shutdown ends, according to the President’s incoming acting chief of staff.

Mar-a-Lago guests will pay a hefty $1,000 to ring in the New Year at Trump’s private Palm Beach club, up from $750 last year and $575 the year before. This year Mar-a-Lago members will pay $650 for New Year’s Eve tickets, sources said, up from $600 last year and $525 the year before. The ticket prices don’t include a 20 percent gratuity and 7 percent tax, which can add another $270 to a $1,000 guest ticket. But as a bonus, you won’t see him!

A federal judge has denied a Justice Department request, because of the shutdown, to pause all deadlines in a DC federal court case challenging the administration’s asylum restrictions. The judge wrote that those challenging the asylum restrictions view this as a case related to human safety and as such, despite the shutdown, deadlines for case filings remain in place.

Trump supporter, Republican Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, commented about attending a “public hanging” sparked weeks of controversy, given the state’s history of racially charged lynchings. It prompted major corporate interests, ranging from health insurance giant Aetna to Facebook to Major League Baseball, to demand refunds of their political donations.

Major League Baseball, Amgen and the National Cattlemen’s Association received their donation refunds, however the filings indicate that MLB and Amgen received refunds by stopping payments on their checks. She returned contributions to three individuals — including San Francisco Giants’ principal owner Charles Johnson and his wife, Ann, who each donated the $2,700 maximum.

And a Happy New Year to one and all.

I am hoping it would be good for all of us. But for that Orange Idiot in the US….

 

 

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.

And the resignations continue

Note: With the upcoming possible partial shutdown of the government coming Friday at midnight, I’ve decided to post some of the week’s news now and the remainder probably on Saturday after whether there is a shutdown or not.

James Mattis, Defense Secretary, is the latest to leave the administration. He resigned the day after Donald Trump surprised just about everyone with his withdrawal from Syria. Mattis was one of the many who didn’t like the decision. This will add to the list of vacancies to fill in addition to Senate approval for many of them.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in a pointed two-page letter that he hand-delivered to Trump. Mattis rejects out of hand Trump’s “America First” foreign policy that had led to clashes with a slew of longtime allies — from Germany to Britain to Australia and back.

“We are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries,” tweeted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio  shortly after the news of Mattis’ resignation broke.

After Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be the latest to depart from the Trump administration at the end of the year. Trump tweeted “The Trump Administration will be announcing the new Secretary of the Interior next week.” Zinke became the fourth Cabinet member to leave under an ethical cloud, having sparked 17 investigations into his actions on the job, by one watchdog’s count.

One report has it that White House had been pushing Zinke to resign for weeks and that he was told he had until year’s end to leave or he would be fired. In a private resignation letter, Zinke blamed “vicious and politically motivated attacks” for his departure. The Justice Department is investigating Zinke for possibly using his office for personal gain following a referral from the Interior Department’s inspector general.

Another report describes suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of agency staff, and attacks on science-based laws that help protect our nation’s world-class wildlife and habitats.

So if you need to review, Mattis, Zinke, White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, chief of staff John Kelly and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley will all be out of the White House by early January at the latest and will need replacements and probably all but Sanders needs Senate approval.

Mick Mulvaney, the new interim Chief of Staff at the white House, like other administration and Republican politicians, have in the past objected to Trump’s politics and administration but still either work for him or side with him. At a November 2016 event in South Carolina, Mulvaney said “Do I like Donald Trump? No” but added that he was a better choice for president than Hillary Clinton and in a video said “…he’s a terrible human being.”

Trump and Rudy Giuliani used Twitter and television interviews to deliver a series of broadsides against special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York. Giuliani said he was “disgusted” by the tactics used by Mueller in his probe into Russian election interference, including in securing guilty pleas from the president’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn on a charge of lying to federal investigators. Trump, Giuliani said, would not submit to an interview by Mueller’s team. Isn’t it legal still in the U.S. to make a plea deal?

“Remember, Michael Cohen only became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started,” Trump tweeted. “They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE!” Actually, the FBI executed a search warrant obtained from a judge in conducting a raid in April on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room and seizing records on a variety of matters, among them a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels by Cohen. The application for the warrant was approved high in the Justice Department.

Document shows Trump signed a letter of intent to move forward with negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Russia, despite Giuliani claiming the document was never signed. The documents are dated October 28, 2015, and bears Trump’s signature. It was a signed letter of intent that set the stage for negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in the heart of Moscow.

“It was a real estate project. There was a letter of intent to go forward, but no one signed it,” Giuliani said in an interview. Trump repeatedly said during the 2016 presidential campaign that he had “nothing to do with Russia.” The deal would of gave Trump’s company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales and control over marketing and design. The deal also included an opportunity to name the hotel spa after Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

After almost two dramatic hours in a courtroom discussing his crimes, former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked to postpone his sentencing for several months so he can have more of an opportunity to cooperate in federal investigations and attempt to mitigate the judge’s disgust with his actions.

Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to FBI agents in a January 24, 2017 interview in the West Wing of the White House. Flynn and a former business associates are accused of illegally lobbying for Turkey.

After winning an auction to name a newly discovered blind amphibian, a British company chose Trump as the creature’s namesake, likening its behavior to Trump’s stance on climate change. Dermophis donaldtrumpi was discovered in Panama and has a propensity for burrowing its head in the ground.

Humor time: Looks like there could be a sequel to All The President’s Men. It will be called All The President’s Convicts.

Can Trump’s presidency get any worse?

Maybe.

Between this past week and the week before, it is probably the worst two week stretch since the Nixon presidency.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison. Cohen was sentenced for eight criminal counts he pleaded guilty to in August. The judge gave him an additional two months for the special counsel charge, to be served concurrently with the US attorney’s New York office term. He has been ordered to surrender on March 6. The judge imposed $500,000 in forfeiture to Cohen, and $1.39 million in restitution.

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: The personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America,” Cohen said. “Recently the President tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law,” Trump tweeted. Trump was privately seething about Cohen’s sentencing, telling associates that Cohen is a “liar,” according to one administration official. The problem is that Cohen was hired by Trump and Trump is ultimately responsible for anyone he hires.

“He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence,” Trump tweeted about Cohen the week before the sentencing. Will the same be said when he is sentenced because of his multiple lies?

After charges brought on to Cohen, Trump and current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani [we haven’t heard much from him lately] both said there is no collusion with Trump tweeting “Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” And yet, if you look at the evidence, clearly Trump could be involved. But what Trump has said could be illegal – tampering with an investigation related to him.

Then Trump also quoted noted constitutional expert [I’m kidding here] Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera, saying “this is collusion illusion” and “there is nothing impeachable here.”

Not surprising, Trump GOP supporters are downplaying the implications by prosecutors in two crimes committed by Cohen. Either they are saying until Mueller releases all the facts or the fact that the payoffs were done prior to Trump getting elected or that Cohen is a liar.

However while the payoffs were done prior to the election, they may have involved campaign money which is illegal if not listed in the expenses. As well the fact that the payoffs were kept quiet just prior to the election. Interesting that Cohen is a liar now but not a month or so ago.

The owner of the parent company of magazines including the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and In Touch has admitted to engaging in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill” [exclusive rights but not use the story] in order to help Trump become president.

Federal prosecutors revealed they had agreed not to prosecute American Media Inc. for secretly assisting Trump’s campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then intentionally suppressed McDougal’s story until after the election.

Trump tweeted: “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.” If you missed it, twice he used the work “Smocking” instead of “Smoking”. I wouldn’t be surprised if late night talk show hosts or political cartoonists make some comments on this.

But then he said in part 2 of the tweet “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution….” So Trump is admitting that Stormy Daniels was paid off. Now special counsel Robert Mueller just needs to see if the money came from the campaign. Even if it didn’t, is this enough to be considered some type of election tampering?

Trump lashed out at Comey over testimony he gave to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, accusing the former FBI chief, without evidence, of lying to lawmakers and questioning his inability to recall events related to certain questions. “On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked.”

At least 16 associates of Donald Trump had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition, according to public statements, court filings, and reporting from news outlets. These communications came in the form of face-to-face meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails and video chats.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi privately questioned Trump’s “manhood” after a contentious meeting bout funding his wall at the southern border. She also compared Trump  to a skunk. Vice President Mike pence sat through the whole thing without saying a word.

Pelosi also told members that she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got Trump to take full accountability for the possible partial shutdown. Government funding runs out for about 25% of federal government spending on December 21. “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said.

After the meeting, Pelosi revealed to Democrats that Trump had claimed in their private session that Mexico would pay for the wall — his oft-stated campaign promise that he has abandoned since taking office. Trump said Mexico will pay through the new NAFTA – money that would go to American workers and the economy.

It is now official: Chief of Staff John Kelly will be out of the White House by the end of the year. Trump has announced his final choice in the chief of staff sweepstakes: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. He will be the “acting” chief of staff even though he is permanent. I guess with the number of people who left the administration, nobody is permanent probably other than family members.

One of the leading potential replacement to Kelly is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. But supposedly because of family commitments, he would only accept the job for a short term. Chris Christie had a meeting for the vacancy be he claimed he didn’t want the job. So why go to the meeting then?

New York Yankees President Randy Levine was reportedly in consideration to become Trump’s chief of staff and is a “wild card” for the post, according to MSNBC.

Trump said this week that he might intervene in the Huawei case [where the Chinese CEO has been held in Canada on a US arrest warrant and caused political problems] if it would help clinch a trade agreement with China, upending U.S. efforts to separate the court proceeding from U.S.-China trade talks and contradicting Canadian officials who said the arrest was not political. China has since arrested two Canadians on most likely bogus charges [in retaliation].

Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for his inauguration, according to sources familiar with the matter. Prosecutors are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence in or access to the new administration.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said, “That doesn’t have anything to do with the President or the first lady.” She’s laying the groundwork to cover Trump from any activity so blame can be laid on the organizers. The committee reported had raised a record-setting $107 million, received much of its funding from wealthy donors who gave $1 million or more.

Trump’s inaugural committee spent funds on hotel rooms and meals at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC and also rented space there at rates negotiated partly by Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. A Saudi-backed veterans’ group booked nearly 500 nights at the hotel in the months after Trump’s inauguration.

The inaugural committee organizers complained to Ivanka Trump that the hotel was attempting to charge $175,000 per day for use of a ballroom and other meeting rooms. That is one heck of an overcharge. So Trump is benefiting financially for the inaugurations with money possibly coming from potential illegal donations to pau for the inauguration.

Trump always claimed his senior staff is “a fine tune machine” but the turnover rate is 62% and that’s more than any “modern” presidency. This includes the most “permanent” Chiefs of Staffs of any modern presidency as well [President Obama had 3 but one was known to be temporary].

During President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said in a statement that “committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office… This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes,” Hatch said. “But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up. Any other citizen would be prosecuted for these crimes.”

But with evidence of Trump covering up the payouts, “The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.” When reminded that it is not the Democrats, but the Southern District of New York, making the allegations, Hatch said, “I don’t care, all I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.”

Some Democrats are saying they may not be able to impeach him while in office but will get him indicted once he leaves. Of course you’ll have those who said he can’t be impeached because it happened out of office will then say he can’t be indicted for something he may have done in office!

Trump has expressed concern that he could be impeached when Democrats take over the House, said source close to Trump. The source said Trump sees impeachment as a “real possibility.” But Trump isn’t certain it will happen. Trump remains confident at this point that, while he could be impeached in the House, he doesn’t believe he would be convicted in the Senate as the GOP remains in control there.

Trump tweeted “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.” Exactly how would billions be saved? Is there a limited time offer on substandard steel? There is some talk to allow $5 billion over two years but considering the Trump Wall already received $1.6 billion and what exactly has come out of it except to spruce up some walls that are already there.

Trump seized on an apparent terrorist attack in France to promote his border wall, the latest example of Trump using fear to push his political agenda. “Another very bad terror attack in France. We are going to strengthen our borders even more,” Trump tweeted. “Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!” The suspect sought in the attack was born in France.

Trump posted a series of tweets threatening that if Democrats do not provide enough votes to build the wall, “the Military will build the remaining sections.” He did not elaborate on how that would be funded.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker [GOP] plans to offer a measure as soon as Tuesday to rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the first formal response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and an implicit rebuke of Trump’s handling of the killing. This will guarantee result in Trump making some nasty comments about Corker.

The Trump administration is doing everything it can to cut the Affordable Care Act costs by slashing advertising by 90% and cut funding for enrollment assistance by 80%. The average number of people signing up daily on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, for 2019 is down roughly 8% as of December 1 from the same period a year ago.

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry, just days after a US government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.

The demonstrations in Paris have erupted into the worst riots France where a movement began as a rebuke of the country’s fuel price hikes and evolved to a broader protest against the cost of living pressures and anger at Macron’s government. And yet Trump blamed the Paris climate accord [which has nothing to do with the demonstrations] as well he claims in a tweet people are “Chanting ‘We Want Trump!'”. Laughable.

The lawyer for four women who claim they were undocumented workers at Trump National Golf Club is calling for state and federal investigations into the Trump Organization’s hiring practices. One claims that managers at the club arranged for fraudulent documents to keep her employed. They don’t believe Trump knew of what was going on. After hired, another one was taken off the club premises to an off-site location and provided with a bogus Social Security card and ID.

Top law enforcement officials pushed back on comments from Trump suggesting the prosecution of a Chinese telecommunications executive from Huawei could be used as leverage in trade negotiations. “What I do, what we do at the Justice Department, is law enforcement. We don’t do trade,” assistant Attorney General John Demers, the department’s top national security official said.

The Trump administration is planning to announce the indictments of multiple hackers suspected of working for a Chinese intelligence service and participating in a long-running espionage campaign targeting the U.S. Additionally, the government is planning to declassify intelligence relating to the breaches, which date back to 2014.

Outgoing US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she used Trump’s “unpredictable” behavior to her advantage in order to “get the job done” as ambassador. “He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and then I’d go back to the ambassadors and say ‘you know, he’s pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far,'” Haley said in an interview.

As if lagging sales in Apple’s new iGadgets are hurting them, Trump is considering widening the tariffs on Chinese-made imports to the US, which could mean new duties on Apple products of between 10 and 25 percent. Trump said the tariffs could impact Apple iPhones and laptops that were made in China, arguing that, “I can make it 10 percent, and people could stand that very easily.”

Trump wants the iPhones to be built in the U.S. If not, he will slap on a 25% tariff. But building them in the U.S. could at as much as 35% to the cost – on a line of phones already faltering because of low sales and high costs to the consumer.

Trump’s world is beginning to unravel

Federal prosecutors said for the first time that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when Cohen committed two election-related crimes in 2016, as special counsel Robert Mueller outlined new contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals. Mueller also revealed that a Russian national who claimed to be well-connected in Moscow spoke with Cohen in 2015 and offered “political synergy” with the Trump campaign.

And yet Trump tweeted, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” He did not offer further explanation of his comment. Go figure that one out.

Trump tweeted “He [Cohen] lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence” after Cohen is working with the prosecution and has asked for no prison time. We will see if and what Trump says if he is convicted and is required to spend prison time.

“He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get……his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free,” People are wondering who “Scott Free” is. Should be “scot-free”.

After Trump canceled his meeting with Vladimir Poutine at the G20 [Trump claiming it was because of Russia’s capturing of Ukrainian navy boats and sailors], various pro-Poutine surrogates in the media [a.k.a. puppets] went after Trump claiming Poutine was in fact the real leader of the free world, Trump is a flunky, untrusted, unbalanced, old, etc. [Stuff we already know.]

One actually used an interesting name: Donald Fredovych Trump. Fredovych would mean “son of Fred” but also could imply “Fredo” as in the disloyal Fredo Corleone who disappointed “the Godfather.”

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks. At a post-G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1st. Not surprising National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow corrected Trump, stating that the 90-day clock on trade negotiations with China began December 1, not January 1.

The administration says China agreed to “purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries”. Of course ” very substantial” could mean really a lot or not that much.

The administration also says Beijing agreed to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance. The opioid – much of it thought to be made in China – is driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the U.S.

Trump claims that China has agreed to cut tariffs on cars it imports from the United States as part of their deal which currently stand at 40%. But the Chinese government has made no mention of cutting car tariffs as a result of the meeting between the two leaders in Buenos Aires.

The original NAFTA deal has landed back atop Trump’s hit list, with Trump again declaring he intends to terminate the 24-year-old trade pact — a move that appears designed to pressure lawmakers on Capitol Hill into approving its recently negotiated successor. That move would give lawmakers six months to approve its replacement once formal notice is delivered.

“It’s caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else,” said Trump. Exactly what is the unemployment rate in the US again? Recent job losses have been mounting under his administration but have been low for a while.

A number of Democrats in Congress said they won’t support it without more stringent enforcement mechanisms for new labour rules and environmental protection. Some Republicans say they, too, are disinclined to support the agreement in its current form.

Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto signed the new U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement during an awkward ceremony at the outset of G20 meetings Friday in Argentina.

When Trump tweets “‘I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'”

Stone is telling congressional committees that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in order to not testify in response to requests for documents and testimony. In 2016, Trump criticized those who invoke their Fifth Amendment right.

But George Conway, who is a lawyer and not a Trump supporter and Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway’s husband, said that under the portion of the US Code that deals with witness tampering in a federal investigation that Trump was doing just that in his tweet praising Stone for publicly refusing to testify against him.

But expect Trump to go after Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser. Mueller told a federal court that Flynn has given “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation and should not get jail time. His early cooperation gave prosecutors a road map for their Russia investigation and may have helped to encourage others to cooperate, the filing states.

There is talk that White House chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving very soon. It has gone to the point where he doesn’t talk to Trump even though it is a job requirement that Kelly to do so. When hired, Kelly curbed access and ruled over staffing. But recently Trump began circumventing many of the policies and protocols he enacted. Daily staff meetings became weekly.

The leading potential replacement is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff who is known to be quite loyal. He’s climbed up the political ladder to the point where Ayers would even join Trump and Pence for lunch. Several of Trump’s top advisers, including Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, have voiced concerns to him about Ayers, with some threatening to quit if he is tapped for the job.

Kelly was also interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in recent months where he responded to a narrow set of questions from special counsel investigators after White House lawyers initially objected to Mueller’s request to do the interview earlier this summer.

The Mueller questions to Kelly centered on a narrow set of issues in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice, chiefly Kelly’s recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged about how Trump had tried to fire Mueller.

Trump has decided to nominate former attorney general William Barr to be the next permanent head of the Justice Department, Trump told reporters. Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has been emerging this week as a consensus candidate to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

As news about Trump administration shuffles involving the attorney general, Trump is tweeting about a different shakeup from months ago as he called former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell,” while he praised his replacement, Mike Pompeo. Trump fired Tillerson back in March and nominated Pompeo, then the CIA director, for the role.

Emails from top officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee were hacked before the 2018 midterm elections, exposing the GOP’s House campaign arm to an intrusion by an “unknown entity.” So why announce it now? Trump has mocked his political opponents when they got hacked by foreign actors, and he has praised Republicans for investing in stronger cyber protections.

Trump said in a tweet “Looking forward to being with the Bush Family to pay my respects to President George H.W. Bush.”. You don’t really look forward to a funeral! And you didn’t respect him in life either!

“I have read every piece of intelligence that’s in the possession of the United States government,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Maybe on their own there is no smoking gun, but according to experts, when you add them all up, it becomes more likely.

CIA has a high confidence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s involvement. The Wall Street Journal also reports that the intelligence agency’s assessment includes electronic communications the crown prince sent to a close adviser who oversaw the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi.

Bin Salman had reportedly said “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements [to go to a consulate]” in a recording. Reportedly, they tried to do the same luring to another Saudi activist living in Montreal but the activist was smart enough not to go to a consulate when offered.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a NATO meeting that Washington will suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days, citing Russian “cheating.” Russian officials the day after warned of unspecified “retaliation” to the U.S. decision to walk out of a key arms treaty.

The House of Representatives approved a two-week extension for a government funding deadline in an effort to avert a partial government shutdown this week but setting the stage for a partial one on December 21. Congressional leaders in both parties have indicated they do not want a partial shutdown, but Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over Trump’s demand for $5 billion for his long-promised Trump Wall.

Trump earlier tweeted “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall” and yet he doesn’t explain how billions will be saved by building a wall. There will surely still be border guards.

A federal judge has finalized the schedule for when state challengers suing Trump over proceeds from the Trump International Hotel get to seek evidence for their case. They allege in the lawsuit that Trump violated a constitutional clause banning gifts and advantages from foreign and domestic governments because of his family company’s stake in the Trump hotel in Washington.

Subpoenas have been served on the Trump Organization and a dozen linked entities in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s ongoing business ties while in office. The lawsuit by DC and Maryland claims Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s ban on emoluments, or payments, from foreign or domestic government entities to the President because of his continued interest in the Trump International Hotel.

DC and Maryland have said the Trump International Hotel’s operations put other nearby hotels and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions. The hotel won its lease on federally owned property before Trump’s election.