Comey vs Trump, round 2

Former FBI Director, James Comey, cited “some evidence of obstruction of justice” in Trump’s actions and speculated that Russians might have dirt on Donald Trump. Does that include the “Pee Tape”?

Trump said in a tweet that Comey was not fired because of the Russia investigation — a statement directly at odds with his own comments on Comey’s dismissal. However, Trump had told NBC News last year that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey saying “regardless of (Rosenstein’s) recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

Trump tweeted “Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, [Andrew] McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!” Wonder how he got his information and which crimes for which Comey hasn’t been arrested for. He also tweeted that Comey “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” I will like to see how that is measured.

Trump tweeted “Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!” Of course it makes no sense. You don’t investigate your future boss in public just so that you can get yourself a job with her.

Counselor to Trump, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, seems to be pushing her vision that FBI is a mess with Comey, McCabe and basically the rest of the FBI.

Interesting to note that Sanders said in November 2016 “When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing.” Then 15 months later she said “Former FBI Director Comey is a disgraced hack and a liar.” So she’s a loser like her boss. Whom would of through that.

A recent ABC News poll showed that Americans found Comey more believable than Trump, by a margin of 48% to 32%. If the fierce campaign by Trump world to discredit the former FBI director’s book fails to shift that number, it could suggest that the President is in for lasting political damage.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t believe Trump will fire special counsel Robert Mueller, adding he doesn’t want legislation on the issue. A bipartisan group introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which protects Mueller, including ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official. Several GOP senators saying the bill is unconstitutional. Others said it’s simply not good politics to try and tell Trump what to do.

Trump’s personal attorney Cohen used the same Delaware limited liability company to facilitate payments to two women. Essential Consultants LLC was used for the partial payment of a $250,000 fee paid to Cohen for negotiating a non-disclosure agreement with a former Playboy model who claimed she was impregnated by Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The former Playboy model’s lawyer, Keith Davidson, is also represented former adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Essential Consultants was also used to pay $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to prevent her from speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. It was partly these payments that led authorities to raid Cohen’s home, office and hotel.

In 2013, Cohen also tamped down a developing US Weekly magazine story about an alleged affair between Donald Trump Jr., who was a judge on his father’s NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice,” and Aubrey O’Day, a contestant on the show.

A judge ordered Cohen’s attorney to reveal Cohen’s third client [aside from Trump and Broidy] which is Fox News anchor Sean Hannity.

Cohen’s lawyers have called the raid “completely unprecedented” and asked the judge to let their lawyers review the documents or put in place a special master to comb through the seized material and separate communications that should be protected by attorney client privilege. Sounding Trump-ish the lawyers said “This is perhaps the most highly publicized search warrant in the history of recent American criminal jurisprudence….”

After Cohen was forced to reveal that Fox host Sean Hannity was his third client, weirdly, Hannity explicitly stated that he was never represented by nor had he ever retained Cohen and implied that his own exchanges with Cohen did not entail the silencing of any alleged sexual partner.

To get the search warrant in the first place for Cohen’s places, the government had to have convinced the court that Cohen and his so-called clients were not actually in an attorney-client relationship, and therefore their conversations were not privileged. Hannity isn’t asserting the privilege, so Cohen lacks any basis not to disclose the information or to prevent the government from looking at any communications between himself and Hannity.

The Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russia, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and several associates of Trump alleging a grand racketeering, hacking and fraudulent conspiracy that harmed Democrats through WikiLeaks’ publication of internal party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Those named in the lawsuit include several top Trump advisers who attended the now-infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and others.

The 66-page lawsuit lays out how the Trumps curried favor in Russia through their family business, and then Russia allegedly worked with Trump advisers before the presidential election to disseminate the spoils from a cyberattack of the DNC.

Trump tweeted “So funny, the Democrats have sued the Republicans for Winning.” Am I missing something. Last I checked he won the last election. In the past, Trump has referenced the DNC’s computer servers in an attempt to raise questions over Democrats’ claims that Russians hacked DNC computer systems in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Trump tweeted “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!” Well, don’t raise the rates! But just days before, the Treasury Department published a report saying that no US trading partner is manipulating its exchange rate. Just so happens Trump is at odds with both countries recently.

Before the presidential election, Trump vowed to label China a currency manipulator on Day 1 of his administration. But he’s repeatedly backed away from that promise. In May 2017, in fact, he said China had stopped manipulating its currency, and he personally took the credit.

In the continuing tit-for-tat trade war, China’s Commerce Ministry said that customs officers will charge importers a fee of about 179% on US sorghum after an investigation found the shipments were unfairly subsidized and damaging Chinese producers. Sorghum is a grain that is used to feed livestock and make a liquor that’s very popular with Chinese drinkers. This will affect Kansas, a state that backs Trump. China’s imports of the crop were worth about $960 million last year.

After The US, France and the UK’s joint mission to bomb chemical factories and some military installations in Syria, Trump tweeted “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” We will see if it is really accomplished when [and if] Syria uses chemical weapons soon. George W. Bush said mission accomplished and yet the US is still in Iraq.

The UK has accused Syria and Russia of preventing independent chemical weapons experts [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] from entering the city of Douma, hit by a suspected gas attack that Western leaders have blamed on the Syrian government. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the OPCW team’s arrival was hampered by the weekend air strikes. If he called the accusations “groundless”, then why would he stop OPCW from entering the area to prove that he is right – unless Syria or Russia is removing evidence.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, got ahead of Trump’s decision-making when she hit the Sunday talk show circuit and said the US would level new sanctions the next day targeting Russian companies that facilitated the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions have yet to come. After a meeting a couple of days prior, others also thought there would be more sanctions announced in the coming days but Haley did not clear her talking points about the sanctions with other administration officials.

After Nikki Haley announced that more sanctions were coming to Russia and the Trump administration said that wasn’t true, Trump personally made the decision to abandon plans to impose more sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria’s chemical weapons attack on civilians. The Trump administration informed the Russian government there won’t be an additional round of sanctions.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s comment that “there might have been some momentary confusion” from the UN ambassador prompted a sharp rebuttal where Haley said “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow took back the comment. But after being one of the few bright spots in administration, whether this drops her in Trump’s rankings of those he can trust and work with.

Interesting that in a conversation between Trump and Vladimir Poutine, Poutine says that Russia has some of the most beautiful hookers. Why would that come up unless Poutine offered or Trump asked?

“If I think that if it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful we’re not going to go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful I will respectfully leave the meeting,” said Trump at a news conference when asked about his impending meeting with Kim Jun Un. His way of having a back door in case he decides not to have the meeting.

Trump tweeted “While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.” Wondering if he knows that the WTO is not a trading pact and WTO may have been bad for the US only because the US slams countries with ridiculous tariffs only to see the WTO say it isn’t right. Didn’t he recently say he wanted to get back into the TPP?

Trump was upset that the US had expelled 60 Russian diplomats, believing the US would match the number of diplomats expelled by individual European countries — not as a whole. Last year he spoke in Pennsylvania during the same event.

The Trump campaign announced that he will hold a campaign rally in Washington Township in Michigan on April 28 while the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will be going on in Washington.

Michael Catanzaro, adviser for energy and environmental policy, will be returning to the law and lobbying firm where he previously worked. Catanzaro had headed domestic energy issues for the White House’s National Economic Council.

Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Victor Joseph reportedly sent an email instructing Major Crimes detectives to bring full uniforms and riot gear to work “until further notice” should Trump fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A group has called for a “Nobody is Above the Law” rally in Pittsburgh if Mueller gets fired.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passes away. And what does Trump tweet about? Comey, someone who he says never existed [attacked Stormy Daniels], and sanctuary cities in California. Not a condolence to the family. But he did comment verbally. In a White House statement “To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend”. Surprised? Added security? 3 former Presidents will be there.

Trump finally landed new personal lawyers in the newly enlisted lawyers from the firm Spears & Imes in New York. As well, Rudy Giuliani is joining Trump’s personal legal team according to Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow but his role on the legal team will be “limited.” Giuliani said his focus will be on interfacing with special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia probe.

In Congress, those leaving office without a clear next political step tend to come from places where Trump is less popular. On the flip side, Republicans are more likely to leave the House to seek higher office if Trump was more popular in their districts. So far, twenty-five Republicans have announced they will retire and leave Congress and 13 have announced they will leave Congress to run for another office.

Mike Pence’s pick for his national security adviser, Jon Lerner, has withdrawn after his hiring created tensions in the administration. There was a report that Trump attempted to block Pence from hiring Lerner because of his “never Trump” views.

Trump tweeted “Just hit 50% in the Rasmussen Poll, much higher than President Obama at same point.” Except Rasmussen is the least reliable poll and a right wing leaning pollster. He’s happy at 50%?

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claims that “I’m a geologist… A geologist will tell you there is little, if any, oil and gas.” In his autobiography, Zinke wrote that he majored in geology at the University of Oregon. But Zinke, however, has never held a job as a geologist.

Several geologists have flagged his comments as disingenuous, saying that someone with a 34-year-old degree who never worked in the field is not considered a geologist. He is not a member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists or the Association of State Boards of Geologists.

The Senate recently passed a banking bill that would shield large regional banks from tough scrutiny that requires them to sit on extra cash to weather the next financial storm. Regional banks could reward shareholders with up to $53 billion if Congress rolls back Dodd-Frank, which refers to a comprehensive and complicated piece of financial regulation born out of the Great Recession of 2008.

More than one-fifth of the $3.9 million that President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign has spent this year has gone to legal fees, the campaign’s latest quarterly Federal Election Commission filing shows. Trump’s campaign raised $10.1 million in 2018’s first three months and has $28.3 million in the bank.

The campaign spent another $58,000 on costs listed as “rent” divided between three recipients: Trump Plaza, Trump Restaurants and Trump Tower. $58,000. That’s it?

 

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Notable people who left Trump’s administration

Notable firings and resignations from President Donald Trump’s White House since he took office on Jan. 20, 2017:

April 12, 2018: Deputy national security adviser Ricky Waddell

April 11, 2018: Deputy national security adviser Nadia Schadlow

April 10, 2018: Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert

April 8, 2018: National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton

March 28, 2018: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

March 22, 2018: National security adviser H.R. McMaster

March 13, 2018: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

March 12, 2018: Special assistant and personal aide to the president John McEntee

March 6, 2018: Economic adviser Gary Cohn

Feb. 28, 2018: Communications director Hope Hicks

Feb. 27: Deputy communications director Josh Raffel

Feb. 7, 2018: Staff secretary Rob Porter

Dec. 13, 2017: Communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman

Dec. 8, 2017: Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell

Sept. 29, 2017: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

Aug. 25, 2017: National security aide Sebastian Gorka

Aug. 18, 2017: Chief strategist Steve Bannon

July 31, 2017: Communications director Anthony Scaramucci

July 28, 2017: Chief of staff Reince Priebus

July 21, 2017: Press secretary Sean Spicer

May 30, 2017: Communications director Michael Dubke

May 9, 2017: FBI Director James Comey

March 30, 2017: Deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh

Feb. 13, 2017: National security adviser Michael Flynn

To be constantly updated. 🙂

 

 

Will there ever be a quiet week in this administration?

Where have you heard this before? Just create a template and fill in the blanks.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who probably shouldn’t have had the job in the first place, is rumored to be the next on the way out. This even after Donald Trump said “Keep your head up. Keep fighting. We got your back.”

The White House is “looking into” Pruitt’s housing situation amid reports that he rented a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist. Meanwhile, a Democratic senator has said that Pruitt’s 24-hour security in Washington allegedly extends to at least some of his personal trips, including one family trips to Disneyland and another to the Rose Bowl Game.

As if Pruitt has enough problems, he bypassed the White House to give large pay raises to two aides [combined over $80,000], then conceding the raises “should not have happened,” while denying that he was aware the raises were given out in the first place. But The Atlantic reported that Pruitt requested pay raises for “two of his closest aides,” in March.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told special counsel Robert Mueller in a classified August 2, 2017, memo that he should investigate allegations that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “colluding with Russian government officials” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors in the Russia probe revealed.

Mueller was also empowered by Rosenstein to investigate Paul Manafort’s payments from Ukrainian politicians, a cornerstone of the Trump adviser’s decades-long lobbying career that has resulted in several financial criminal charges so far.

Wondering if Rosenstein could get into hot water as Manafort could give up those above him in exchange for a lesser sentence – which could cause Trump further problems.

The Trump administration is unleashing additional sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin along with 12 companies they own or control. The measures announced by the Treasury Department were also aimed at 17 senior Russian government officials and the state-owned Russian weapons trading company, Rosoboronexport, which has long-standing ties to Syria and its subsidiary, Russian Financial Corporation Bank. One sanctioned is Vladimir Poutine’s son-in-law.

China responded to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs [$50 billion] with $3 billion of tariffs of its own. Beijing has yet to retaliate to Trump’s promised crackdown on Chinese intellectual property theft. Trump may still add further tariffs. Combined with Trump’s obsession of going after Amazon [with more untruthful tweets], stock market took a tumble on Monday.

China is punching back in the escalating trade dispute with the US, announcing plans for heavy new tariffs on dozens more US goods including aircraft and autos. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of US exports. The 106 affected products will also include soybeans and chemicals.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s listed of about 1,300 Chinese exports — also worth about $50 billion annually — that it intends to target with 25% tariffs.

Now Trump said he could add a further $100 billion in tariffs against China if he decides to.

Meanwhile, those in rural America are getting nervous because the latest tariffs from China will affect them primarily. For example, most of the soy comes from rural states – the same states that gave Trump the presidency. With the mid-term elections in 7 months, Trump could lose some of the rural vote if the tariffs don’t disappear. China is obviously targeting Republican voters. [Will Trump whine – if he loses badly in the mid-term – that China meddled in their election?]

In good trade news, they are making progress in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

When Trump complains that the government is getting a bad deal with Amazon’s shipping, he shouldn’t be blaming Amazon but instead the US Postal Service. In the end they are agreeing to the shipping rates. If anything Trump should commend Amazon for doing a good deal – although I don’t they used his book as a reference.

One of Amazon’s biggest customers is the federal government. Amazon, through its massive Amazon Web Services cloud computing division, has a deal with the government to provide cloud services to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. That deal was first awarded in 2013 and Amazon was said to have beat out IBM for the business. It’s a massive contract, worth a reported $600 million over 10 years.

Trump complained at length about the amount of American money being spent in Syria, which he said had produced nothing for the US in return. Trump grew irritated with his top military brass and national security team when they advised him an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Syria would be unwise. Even CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who Trump has tapped to serve as secretary of state, has told him that an immediate withdrawal from Syria would be a mistake.

Trump wants to use money set aside for the military to be used to build his Trump Wall. But he can’t as the money was specifically set to be used by the military [for security, etc.]. Trump claims that the Trump Wall is about security. Congress would have to agree to the change.

In the meantime, Trump wants to send the military to guard the border with Mexico until his trump Wall is built. The way things are going, it could be there for a while. Trump claim that this has never done before. George W. Bush used the National Guard in 2006. Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the US, unless specifically authorized by Congress. Does he know any of this?

With between 2000 and 4000 National Guard troops expected to defend the southern US border, politicians are starting to wonder who will pay for the deployment and whether they will be armed. Like true Trump fashion, he announces something with little details and the White House staff have to scramble to figure things out. Though numbers have rebounded to be more consistent with the past few years, the number of crossings in fiscal year 2017 were at a nearly five-decade low.

Trump administration officials said they’re crafting a new legislative package aimed at closing immigration “loopholes,” hours after Trump called on Republicans in Congress to immediately pass a border bill using the “Nuclear Option if necessary” [changing the Senate rules to require a simple majority of 51 votes to override a rule instead of 60] to muscle it through. Trump’s favoured DACA solution mustered only 39 votes in the Senate, meaning it couldn’t have passed even if the Senate did approve the changes.

Trump tweeted “Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!” Wouldn’t that be “inactions” and “unacceptable 46 year high”?

In 2000, 1.6 million were apprehended in trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US. In 2017, it was just 310,000. So much for Trump claiming the numbers crossing are increasing. He should give himself pat on the back for the lower amount.

Trumps announcement of putting the national guard at the border caught everyone in his administration off guard and are scrambling to respond to what he said – with the little information they got.

Trump also declared protections for so-called Dreamer immigrants “dead,” claimed the U.S. has “no effective border laws” and Trump continued to blame Democrats for killing the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program despite the fact that he was the one who moved to end the program. He also claimed DACA, which has provided temporary protection from deportation and work permits to hundreds of thousands of young people, is luring people to cross the border illegally, even though the program have never been open to new arrivals.

Trump appeared to assert that women from Central America are raped at “levels that nobody has ever seen before” as an argument for strengthening US immigration laws. It is unclear where Trump derived the evidence for his seeming assertion that Central American women are being raped at unprecedented levels. More like another bit of “facts” that he created.

Trump warned Mexico to halt the passage of “caravans” of illegal immigrants or risk retribution. Individuals in the caravans often try to reach the US border but usually not as part of the caravan. The caravans typically don’t proceed much farther north than the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!” Trump tweeted. The so-called caravan is 1000 people [mostly Hondurans].

Trump appeared to claim credit for halting the caravan of about 1,100 migrants, many from Honduras, who had been marching along roadsides and train tracks in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. But the caravan of largely Central American migrants had never intended to reach the U.S. border. It was meant to end at a migrants’ rights symposium in central Mexico later this week.

Trump claims those in the caravan want to enter the US as part of DACA. But DACA is for those already in the US and were born there from parents who weren’t. It is an annual protest against Central America human rights abuses.

Trump also threatened to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t reduce the flow of immigrants coming across the southern US border.

In your typical Trump fashion, during the annual Easter egg hunt on the White House grounds with small children, Trump decided to discuss politics including the trade war with China. In his speech in front of children, he says the economy is doing well – but the markets dropped quite a bit on the same day. [He goofed also in the past claiming the economy is doing well but the markets were sliding.]

Trump, a constant critic of what he calls “fake news,” will skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for a second year in a row. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will attend to represent the administration at the head table.

In another bad sign for Republicans in November, a Democrat leaning candidate [had no party affiliation] won a 10-year seat on the Wisconsin’s Supreme Court – a state held with a Republican governor and a state won by Trump in the 2016 elections. In fact the winner won by double digits. It was the first time a liberal candidate who wasn’t an incumbent had won a seat on the seven-member court in 23 years.

Todd Johnson, political appointee, is a former Trump campaign state director in New Mexico who joined the Department of Defense in 2017 as an advance officer, a Pentagon employee with the sensitive task of providing logistical support related to the secretary’s events and appearances domestically and abroad. Johnson resigned after it was revealed on social media that he posted birther conspiracies about then-President Barack Obama and shared a video that claimed Obama was the Antichrist.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has already filed 29 separate lawsuits against the Trump Administration — and that doesn’t even include his defense of the state in the Justice Department’s litigation against the California law limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Becerra’s list includes five lawsuits related to immigration, three on health care, three on education and 15 on the environment and climate.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the US, is forcing its news anchors to record a promo about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. Sinclair is pro Trump and has many Fox stations but also ABC and others. Two-thirds are in Trump “country”.

According to a former Sinclair News Director, Sinclair has locked down the company where they have threaten anyone in the company who speaks publically about it. Sinclair enforces clauses if someone tries to leave before their contract is up.

Trump asked a federal judge to order private arbitration in a case brought by a porn actress who claimed she had an affair with him. Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, filed papers in federal court in Los Angeles asking a judge to rule that Stormy Daniels’ case involving a non-disclosure agreement must be heard by an arbitrator instead of a jury. Looks like Trump may want to keep the issue out of the media.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway responds to allegations in a new book by author Ronald Kessler that she is the “number one leaker” in the White House by saying that [obviously] the allegations are false.

A photo released of the White House interns show that almost all of the interns are white – lack of diversity. Well, it’s about the same for Trump’s cabinet. Anyone surprised? Is it accidental or intentional that the young man and woman of color are posed at the group’s edges and are the only 2 of 91 who are not white. Washington, DC has a large population of color. The Democrats showed off their intern picture. Plenty of diversity.

Another firing, more lies and half truths

Looks like we will go another week with another firing by Donald Trump.

Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin by tweet in the wake of a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency, and nominated White House doctor Ronny Jackson to lead the agency. Well at least Shulkin was told by Chief of Staff John Kelly before Trump tweeted that he was fired. In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as “highly trained and qualified.” That is probably code for “I found someone who will do what I say and not cause problems.”

But not surprising a major veterans’ organization expressed concern over Shulkin’s dismissal and Trump’s intention to nominate Jackson, whom they worried lacked experience to run the huge department.

Just this past week, Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow announced that Joe diGenova and his wife [and lawyer] Victoria Toensing, would be joining the team. Not even a week late, both will not, citing “conflicts”. diGenova  is a former US attorney for the District of Columbia. Just 4 days after, the two lawyers met with Trump. So what changed? Hmmmm. Some members of Trump’s legal team had opposed their hiring.

Trump tweeted “Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country – and I am very happy with my existing team.” Ummm. Wouldn’t that be the same for any law firm. He’s happy with his team even though John Dowd left recently and he was obviously looking as other lawyers declined jobs.

Trump tweeted “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.” Yup all those lawyers who pick up clients at hospitals looking for big pay days.

Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the US identified as intelligence agents and the closure of a Russian consulate in Seattle in response to Russia’s alleged use of a nerve agent in the United Kingdom. Trump announced it only after UK and other European countries were expelling diplomats as well. Better late than never! Not surprising, the Russian expelled 60 American diplomats.

White House spokesperson Sara “Simpleton” Sanders said that the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle was tied to the consulate’s “proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing.”

A day after reports suggested Trump has it in for Amazon, the U.S. president added gasoline to the fire on Thursday, tweeting that the company is dodging its tax obligations.

Trump tweeted ” Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.).” They actually pay their share of taxes and while they get a bulk discount from the USPS, they are still paying. Unsure what “loss” he is referring to. In fact, online shipping is the one bright spot for the USPS.

Amazon’s annual report shows the company set aside $769 million US to pay various income taxes for fiscal 2017. Amazon’s tax bill next year is likely to be even smaller: the company admits it expects to book a massive $789 million tax break this year as a result of the tax overhaul package Trump signed at the end of last year.

If Amazon doesn’t use the USPS, they would be using another courier to deliver their packages and it is a big business for any company that works with them. Amazon – or more specifically its CEO Jeff Bezos — is a frequent target of Trump. Amazon founder Bezos also owns the Washington Post, one of the newspapers that has been most critical of Trump’s administration’s moves.

Then Trump tweeted “…it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars.” Has he ever heard of volume discounts? And knowing him, he doesn’t even know how much the USPS “loses”. Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.”….does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a ‘lobbyist’ and should so REGISTER,” tweeted Trump. Will Fox News register then? Does he know the definition of a lobbyist [let alone freedom of the press].

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not naming a new special counsel to investigate Republican-driven accusations against the FBI — at least for now. Instead, Sessions revealed that Utah’s top federal prosecutor, John Huber, is looking into allegations that the FBI abused its powers in surveilling a former Trump campaign adviser, and claims that more should have been done to investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear energy agency. If a special counsel was named, it could be a tit for tat when the next Democrat administration is in office. They could have a lot to investigate with this administration.

“Our children are dying! Trump is golfing!” Those seven words, which appeared on one of the thousands of signs at the recent “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, succinctly summed up the sentiment of so many. Trump’s motorcade driving him to play golf at his country club reportedly took a different route so that Trump would not see the local “March for Our Lives” protesters.

Yet Trump has not tweeted one single tweet about the young people, and their adult allies, who took to the streets in Washington and in other cities at hundreds of sister rallies to demand action on gun violence.

Trump has privately floated the idea of funding construction of a border wall with Mexico through the US military budget in conversations with advisers. It was not immediately clear how serious Trump was about pursuing this option, but the move would likely face steep hurdles with appropriators in Congress. Trump has said he would seek that payment in the form of a refund from Mexico, either through trade negotiations, remittance payments or other means.

Congressional budgeting is done with very specific instructions for how dollar amounts are spent. Any repurposing of funds requires express congressional approval, which Trump is unlikely to get. Trumps other idea to fund the wall is increasing fees that a person has to pay when they cross the border from Mexico into the United States. But that would take a long time to amass a decent fund.

He tweeted this excuse “Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense.” Trump saw the increased funding for the military as a reason it could afford to foot the bill for the border wall.

The Trump administration has added to the 2020 Census a question regarding citizenship which could penalize immigrants and threaten civil rights. Now progressives, states and civil rights advocates are preparing a flurry of legal challenges against it. California is fighting it.

Not to be outdone, the Trump administration are suing California because of its sanctuary status.

Federal revenue is declining because of Trump’s tax cuts, so the government needs to borrow more to make ends meet. At the same time, Washington’s borrowing costs have climbed rapidly in recent months. The government plans to sell about $294 billion of debt, according to the Treasury Department. That’s the highest for a week since the record set during the 2008 financial crisis.

Oh jeez. Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway signaled she’d be open to taking the White House communications director job, in a marked departure from her earlier comments on the job. But within the past month she said “I’ve been offered that job many times, and no, I work on policy here at the White House.”

Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit for defamation against Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. This is in additional move in an ongoing suit by Daniels against Cohen, Trump and the limited liability company Cohen has said he established to facilitate a payment to Daniels ahead of the presidential election. “It was reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. (Stephanie) Clifford is a liar,” the complaint reads, referencing Daniels’ real name. A friend of Daniels, Alana Evans, also plans on suing Cohen, for defamation.

Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. A group of advisors to then President-elect Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands.

The Council of Energy Resource Tribes, a tribal energy consortium, estimated in 2009 that Indian energy resources are worth about $1.5 trillion. In 2008, the Bureau of Indian Affairs testified before Congress that reservations contained about 20 percent of untapped oil and gas reserves in the U.S.

Trump tweeted “…. I think President Trump was right when….” Why does he like using third person in his tweets? Is he a Jekyll and Hyde person?

Even after 14 months in office, Trump only amassed 49 million followers on Twitter. A “retired” Barack Obama has 101 million.

There are about 265 million privately-owned guns in America. But half of those guns are owned by only 3 per cent of the population.

Another two resignations, more scandals, typical Trump week

National security adviser H.R. McMaster has resigned [did he really?] and will be replaced by former US ambassador and Fox News analyst John Bolton. McMaster claims he is leaving the military and retiring from public service. Bolton’s hard edged, hawkish views on issues like North Korea, Iraq and Syria make him a controversial pick.

As recently as March 8, the White House was denying reports that McMaster was on his way out, with White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declaring on “Fox & Friends” that “General McMaster’s not going anywhere.” The Pentagon had been quietly looking to see if there is a four-star military job suited for McMaster.

Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, has resigned from his personal legal team handling the response to the Russia investigation. Dowd, who has urged Trump to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and resist attacking him publicly, resigned as his disagreements with Trump intensified and Trump stepped up his attacks on the special counsel.

At least four defense attorneys at major law firms were approached to join Trump’s legal team in recent weeks. This includes a former US Solicitor General and 2 lawyers that have worked for previous presidents. All turned Trump down, for various reasons, including concern that the President doesn’t listen to his lawyers and that their law firms represented other clients that would pose conflicts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he received “assurances” that Trump is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. “The special counsel should be free to follow through with his investigation to its completion without interference,” Ryan said during a House GOP leadership news conference on Capitol Hill. “Absolutely, I am confident that he will be allowed to do that.”

But Trump’s approach to the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as his rhetoric and his legal team have begun to reflect an increased focus on winning the fight for public opinion rather than cooperating with the actual probe. This include tweets like “Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump tweeted of the special counsel investigation. “”Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?” Except Mueller himself and Mueller’s boss [Rod Rosenstein] are both Republicans. Unsure about those under Mueller but there are more than 13.

Trump admitted that a majority of Americans may not be ready to support the death penalty for “the really bad pushers and abusers.” “It’s possible,” Trump said. “It’s possible that our country is not ready for that and I can understand it, maybe. Although personally I can’t understand that.” He added: “I think unless you do that, unless you have really, really powerful penalties led by the death penalty for the really bad pushers and abusers, we are going to get nowhere.” Maybe the pushers, but abusers?

Trump said his administration would be addressing the problem of overprescribing of opioids, adding that the Department of Justice is looking “very seriously” into bringing litigation against drug companies. “We’ll ensure opioid addiction is not subsidized by the American tax payer.” As if people are getting their opiods exclusively from drug companies.

Trump, who as a candidate used the Clinton Foundation to slam his opponent Hillary Clinton, heralded an opioid program backed by the Clinton family foundation. Trump touted the work of Adapt Pharma, a program that makes Narcan — a type of drug that can save someone who is overdosing on opioids — more available in colleges and universities. The program was made possible in 2017 because of a partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

Maybe a bit tongue and cheek, Chelsea Clinton, someone who has been critical of Trump throughout his administration, thanked the President for mentioning the effort.

Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government open until September, then excoriated Congress for passing the plan in the first place. “I said to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said. And yet we know how much we take his word for. Right? He had threatened a veto early. More Fake Presidential News.

In a post bill signing conference/speech, Trump also called on Congress to give him a “line item veto” for all government spending bills, echoing a desire expressed by previous presidents who lamented parts of congressional legislation. He also called on Congress to get rid of the filibuster and “go to 51 votes in the Senate” in order to have “success” in Congress.

The Supreme Court has previously found that the line-item veto violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution, which says the President does not have the power to unilaterally amend or repeal legislation (Clinton v. City of New York). Most senators oppose giving up the filibuster rule, which was designed to ensure the minority party has some say in the legislative process.

During his speech, Trump argued that Democrats have stood in the way of DACA recipients gaining permanent legal status, while casting Republicans as would-be saviors. “The Democrats fought us, they just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill.” Will anyone believe him?

A $#.6 billion cut in spending offered by Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was chopped from the final bill.

Trump lamented the “ridiculous situation that took place over the last week,” saying the bill was quickly put together and lawmakers were given little time to read through it. At 2300 pages, I doubt it but it would be quite a read. Then again, the government would of shut down after today. Who’s to blame there? I thought he was commenting about the many things that happened in his administration. Scandals, resignations [really firings, right?], etc.

Trump tweeted “Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming.” $1.6 billion doesn’t go to [sic] far when building the Trump Wall. With the probably corruption in building the mess, expect just a few hundred feet if lucky.

Trump claimed during his speech that the stock markets were doing well. Unsure which stock market he was looking at as the Dow Jones dropped 425 that day. The market sold off after Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on about $50 billion of Chinese imports to retaliate for theft of intellectual property. 1100 points were lost in two days in the Dow Jones. The worry is that a tit-for-tat escalation between the two largest economies in the world will ruin the solid economic backdrop

After saying that Canada and Mexico received exemptions for any tariffs, the administration says that tariffs will be imposed on May 1st, if the NAFTA deal is not signed by then. No one is really surprised that Trump changed his mind…. again. The European Union, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea and Australia will not be subject to the trade penalties with [so far] no strings attached.

Meanwhile it looks like Trump is caving in again as he had thrown out the requirement that all vehicles sold in the US must have 50% or more American content. With that gone, an updated NAFTA agree is more likely – assuming Trump drops removing Article 19 [which is the trade arbitration – US has lost every time to Canada].

Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to Trump’s campaign, reportedly gained access to information about 50 million Facebook users. The data was collected by a professor for academic purposes in accordance with Facebook rules, the company said. But then the information was transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica. The transfer violated Facebook policies.

One of the first uses of a trove of Facebook data on tens of millions of Americans that has thrown Facebook and Cambridge Analytica into crisis was in 2014 by a super PAC run by John Bolton, Trump’s new national security adviser.

A former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who allegedly had a nine-month affair with Trump is suing the company that kept her original account from publication. Shortly before the presidential election, American Media Inc., the company that owns The National Enquirer, paid $150,000 to McDougal, but did not run her story in a tabloid maneuver known as “catch and kill.” The contract did not require the Enquirer to run the story and required McDougal’s silence. American Media is owned by a major Trump supporter.

The Trump administration has offered a two-and-a-half-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. In exchange, the Trump administration wants $25 billion for the proposed Trump Wall with Mexico and other security measures. Democrats say for that amount, DACA recipients and people who might qualify for the program must get more: a chance at citizenship.

Trump initially didn’t congratulate Vladimir Poutine after his landslide election “win”. Poutine spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that maybe Trump’s schedule didn’t allow it and suggested he might call later. Maybe he’s too busy tweeting rants against Robert Mueller and doesn’t have time to congratulate Poutine in a tweet.

The White House said that it is “not surprised by the outcome” of Sunday’s election, and that no congratulatory call was planned. That quote sounds interesting. Trump did contact Poutine later and quite a few Republicans were upset that he did so – especially when not bringing up the subject of the election meddling or the fact that Poutine’s election win was suspicious.

Trump tweeted “I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him.” The difference was 6 years ago, Vladimir Poutine wasn’t turning into a corrupt dictator who has amassed billions that should of gone to the people and his government wasn’t known to be involved in hacking US elections.

Trump was infuriated after it quickly leaked that he had been directly instructed by his national security advisers in briefing materials not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent election victory during their call. Warnings from multiple national security advisers and briefing materials that said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” was included.

Trump will hire an attorney to join his personal legal team who has alleged that he is being framed by a group of FBI and Justice Department officials. Former US Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining the legal team. This comes two months after DiGenova appeared on Fox News to allege that FBI and Justice Department officials carried out “a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.”

Wondering if fired Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will launch a lawsuit in case he can’t get his pension – although it sounds like he has had at least two offers from the Democrats to work at a federal agency [any that can have him] for at least a couple of days.

After McCabe’s firing, there is still rumbling that Robert Mueller will be next. Trump gloated in tweets at McCabe and then came around to attack Mueller and his Russian investigation. But senior Republics have warned him that firing Mueller will cross the line and probably open a constitutional crisis. It would be “the beginning of the end of (Donald Trump’s) presidency,” predicted South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Trump said Rick Saccone lost the Pennsylvania special election, despite the fact that he has not yet conceded the race. “We’re 5-0 and then we lost by 300 votes the other night, right? 300 out of 200-twenty-some-odd-thousand votes.” He said in a speech – but Saccone lost by 700.

Former FBI director James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” won’t be released until April 17 but is already a number one best seller.

A long-time Fox News analyst, Ralph Peters, sharply criticized the network, denouncing the outlet as a “propaganda machine” devoted to Trump, and saying that it was “wittingly harming our system of government for profit,” in a stunning internal email announcing his exit from the company.

 

Trump fires two in one week – for now a first

You know that for every week, there has to be at least one major bombshell. It is sort of like a law.

Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, ending Tillerson’s difficult tenure by tweeting an ouster that had been long expected and yet was shocking in its abruptness.

The writing was probably on the wall when Trump announced the potential meeting with Kim Jun Un and Tillerson new nothing about it. The two had their differences in polities and Tillerson supposedly called Trump a “moron” at one point.

Trump said he was nominating the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. Pompeo may surely approved in the senate as he was already confirmed for CIA director as the confirmation will be in April. Haspel may have an issue because she ran a secret prison in the Middle East where she approved the use of waterboarding in 2002. Trump has previously said he supports waterboarding.

Haspel, first woman nominated as CIA director, also helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos. That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.

How was Tillerson fired? Trump asked Chief of Staff John Kelley to call Rex Tillerson on Friday night. Kelly told Tillerson that he will be replaced but did not specify the timing. Trump tweeted the firing Tuesday morning. “This is how the President wanted to do it,” said a senior White House official.

Just after Tillerson’s sudden firing, American diplomats at posts spanning the globe were surprised to receive guidance from Washington telling them not to post or retweet the statement from Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein on how Tillerson was fired by Trump.

Goldstein said Tillerson found out he was fired that morning in a tweet from Trump; Goldstein himself was then fired after that statement conflicted with the White House’s official line that Tillerson was notified by Kelly three days earlier in a late-night phone call.

“There was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State,” Trump tweeted as he fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Well Attorney General Jeff Sessions did the actual firing, but you know who really did it. McCabe was set to officially retire on March 18, but he will lose his pension after a more than two-decade career at the bureau. He was out just under 48 hours before his retirement. That would be typical of this administration.

His dismissal was recommended by a panel of career disciplinary officials [FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility] at the bureau after they found he had shown a lack of candor under oath, a career killing lapse for any FBI officer. The issue stems from findings in an internal Justice Department watchdog report that claims he misled investigators about his decision to authorize FBI officials to speak to the media about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Revelations that McCabe had both kept [fired FBI Director James] Comey-style memos of his conversations with Trump, and that McCabe had been interviewed by the special counsel’s team, stoked new intrigue around the question of whether Trump obstructed justice by firing his first FBI director, who was leading the inquiry into whether his campaign colluded with Russia.

“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally,” McCabe said. “It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation [Robert Mueller], which continue to this day.”

Trump’s attorney John Dowd called for the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling. Dowd said he was speaking on his own behalf, although he had earlier told the Daily Beast, which first reported the statement, that he was speaking on behalf of Trump. Now they are saying Dowd’s comment wasn’t authorized by Trump. If Trump did authorize the comment, he could be in trouble for interfering with the investigation.

As if this isn’t enough, Trump has apparently grown sick of H.R. McMaster and is preparing to jettison his national security adviser in the not-too-distant future. Stories came out late in the week that Trump wants him out and already has someone waiting to take his place in John Bolton. Unlike Tillerson, who was fired through a tweet, is this better? Waiting to be fired? Or maybe Trump wants McMaster to do the honorable thing and resign [or fall on his sword like a 3 star general should].

Bolton is known as an architect of the Iraq War, an enemy of multilateralism and foe of the United Nations, where he served during the George W. Bush administration through a recess appointment when he could not win Senate confirmation. He is also a harsh critic of the Iran nuclear deal and of North Korea, and is seen as someone who might promote conflict in both cases.

With Tillerson gone there are still potentially up to 8 in the cabinet [including McMaster] who could be fired. Trump has hinted for some major changes. And yet he said back in October that he was very happy he was with the cabinet he selected.

Trump’s personal aide Johnny McEntee was also fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes which caused problems in getting a security clearance. But the Trump campaign announced McEntee would be joining the reelection effort as a senior adviser for campaign operations. So they hire crooks in the campaign?

Trump addressed UK PM Theresa May’s comments that it is “highly likely” Russia poisoned a former spy, saying if it is fact “we will condemn Russia.” So meanwhile, not surprising, he’s siding with Russia. But UN Ambassador Nikki Haley ignored Trump and went with a scathing speech at the UN going after Russia.

Only days later, Trump is asked about the spy poisoning: “It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it”. So after Haley said so at the UN, Trump finally caved in and admitted it.

The Trump administration announced it is enacting new sanctions on Russia, including individuals indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, in a sweeping new effort to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election. The measures come a month-and-a-half after the administration missed a congressionally mandated deadline to impose the new sanctions.

The Trump administration has accused Russia of remotely targeting the US power grid, as part of its newly unveiled sanctions on the country. It also included sanctions on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that produced divisive political posts on American social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election. Russia has attempted to attack targets that include “energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors” since March 2016 said the Department of Homeland Security.

Raise your hand if you are surprised ion this bit of news: The Trump administration backpedaled on the idea of increasing the minimum age to buy certain firearms — a policy Trump had said he would support. But at least they are still providing some school personnel with “rigorous” firearms training and backed a bill to improve criminal background checks. The NRA has filed a lawsuit claiming that a Florida law violates 2 amendments. Is the administration nervous they could be next?

In not so good news for the Republicans, Democrat candidate Conor Lamb has squeaked out a slim majority win in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. This was a district won by Trump by 20 points in the last election. The Republicans and White House claimed they had a “weak candidate” in Rick Saccone. Notice they said this after he lost. [So basically they are running Saccone over with a bus a few times followed by a steamroller for good measure.] Here’s a crackpot. The losing Saccone says his political opponents hate Trump, America and God.

Do you think Trump’s popularity had anything to do with the loss? Nah. Just a thought. Surely he won’t take any blame in the loss. Even if Saccone would of won by a slim majority, it wouldn’t be good. The Republicans are also saying they aren’t nervous as it is just one loss. They still have a huge majority. Sure. Trump even claims that Lamb won because Lamb is like him. Sure.

At an event in Pennsylvania supporting Saccone, Trump touted his role in South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, claiming credit for temporarily reducing the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. “It’s little hard to sell tickets when you think you’re going to be nuked,” he said. Problem is that he had nothing to do with North Korea joining the Olympics.

At the same event, Trump claims that it was he who got North Korea to join talks with him when in fact South Korea got them together.

Trying to get some kind of win, Trump may soften his stance to get the NAFTA deal renegotiated before July 1st when Mexico has their elections. Otherwise than man behind “The Art of a Deal” will look like [another] failure. He has also hinted that he may try to join the Trans Pacific Partnership – the same trade deal he left right after taking office.

Trump boasted at a private fundraiser of making up trade claims [no surprise there] during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before knowing whether they were true. Trump claimed they had a deficit but according to figures provided by the Commerce Department, the US ran a $2.77 billion surplus with Canada for 2017.

During the fundraiser, Trump also reportedly called the North American Free Trade Agreement a disaster and blamed the World Trade Organization for allowing other nations to box in the US on trade. Trump mocked other politicians for supporting NAFTA, attacking Mexico as “spoiled” and arguing that Canada had outsmarted the US.

Now it seems porn star Stormy Daniels has faced physical threats for going after Trump according to her lawyer. Her lawyer also said that six additional women have come forward alleging sexual relationships with Trump — including some he says who also claim to have nondisclosure agreements. Her lawyer alleges also that some of the accusations she’s making against Trump occurred while Trump was in office.

Trump accused Japan of using a “bowling ball test” to cheat US auto companies out of selling cars to Japanese consumers. The test is when a bowling ball is dropped to the hood of the car, if dents, fails.

Facebook has announced it is suspending Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, over concerns about violations of the social media site’s policies. Facebook claimed a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, had passed Facebook user data he gained through an app on to third-parties, including Cambridge Analytica.

A poll of leading economists from the University of Chicago has found rare unanimity on the topic, with a newly released survey showing that zero per cent of economists surveyed believe tariffs will help Americans.

Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, someone who has little experience in this field, stumbled her way through a tense interview, struggling to answer some basic questions about schools in her home state of Michigan and admitting that she does not “intentionally” visit underperforming schools. Biased? Not doing her job?

Russian President [for life] Vladimir Poutine, in an interview on NBC, suggests that Jews or Tatars or other minorities in Russia were behind the alleged election meddling in 2016. Maybe they were paid by Americans or maybe on their own. No proof of course. And while just about everyone in congress condemned the comments, one individual didn’t. Take a guess who?

Trump’s approval rating in a new poll conducted by SSRS stands at 35%, down five points over the last month to match his lowest level yet. Overall, 80% of self-identified Republicans say they approve of Trump, one point below his previous low mark of 81%, hit in late September of last year. Just 13% of Republicans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance. Approval for the President stands at just 5% among Democrats and 35% among independents.

Almost three-quarters (72%) say they are concerned about foreign government interference in US elections generally, including 90% of Democrats, 68% of independents and 53% of Republicans, and 60% say they are not confident the president is doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future American elections, according to a new poll conducted by SSRS.

Hundreds of parishioners gathered at a Pennsylvania church got married Wednesday holding AR-15s as church members say the ceremony was scheduled months before the Parkland shooting, and they were following God’s will to honor the Second Amendment. Guns were zip-tied at the door and ammunition was not allowed in the church.

Family problems and more departures

The Washington Post published a bombshell report that at least four countries had discussed how to use White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s sparse experience, financial troubles and intricate business arrangements to manipulate him.

The security clearance of Kushner has been downgraded. Kushner had been operating with an interim clearance at the “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” level for more than a year. Now he is only authorized to access information at the lower “secret” level.

The news set off rampant speculation among Donald Trump allies that Kushner’s days in the White House might be numbered. Another announcement saw the departure of a top Kushner aide in the White House, deputy communications director Josh Raffel, the third departure of a Kushner ally in the West Wing in as many months.

With the downgrade in clearance, Kushner may not be able to fulfill his job as a foreign policy advisor such as the Middle East peace process – which itself went from not good to worse since Trump announced that it would move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Is that advising? He also can’t be in any room where a higher security clearance is required.

He can’t even see intercepted communications or the most secret CIA information about their informants. Unless Kushner is cleared by the FBI to receive a permanent security clearance or gets a waiver from Trump [I can see that happening!], his diminished role will spur fresh speculation about his longevity as a White House staffer.

He also worked on trade deals for the United States’ relationships in Asia has been dying a slow death over the last year due to a combination of his lack of experience, lack of respect from world leaders and the actions of his boss and father-in-law, President Donald Trump. The drop in clearance will also affect Ivanka Trump.

Trump pledged to hire the most qualified people in the world to serve in his administration, and made the alleged mishandling of classified material by his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton a key argument of his campaign. But yet, his “qualified” people have either resigned [more likely fired] or can’t get a top secret security clearance. Yet many others also can’t get a clearance approved.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders insisted that the change in Kushner’s security clearance would not impact his standing in the White House. “He is a valued member of the team and will continue to do the important work he has been doing since he started in the administration,” she said. He won’t be too valuable if he doesn’t have the access needed to do his job – maybe except for maintenance work [gardener, pick up trash from baskets, etc.] Trump has the ability to declassify information and could do so in order to allow Kushner to see certain documents, which might not fly well with the national security and intelligence communities. But he doesn’t care about them since has already degraded them in the past.

Kushner’s family real estate group obtained business loans after Kushner met with the company heads in his official government capacity where Kushner met with Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, on multiple occasions while advising the Trump administration on infrastructure policy. The size of the loan was triple the size of their average property loan.

As well, Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, met with Kushner in the spring of 2017 and a short time after, the group lent Kushner Companies $325 million for some of its Brooklyn properties.

The chief White House calligrapher has greater access to sensitive information than Kushner with a top secret clearance. The clearance is supposedly required because of the knowledge of the President’s schedule, as well as the calligrapher’s proximity to world leaders.

Not to be outdone by her hubby, US counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump’s international business deals. The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump. Wonder how her father will respond to this news. Twitter storm against the FBI?

Adding to this is that Trump was already under ethical fire for breaking anti-nepotism conventions by hiring family members.

Trump indirectly notified Chief of Staff John Kelly against removing Kushner’s clearance. So instead, Kelly reduced his clearance. But with Kushner’s job requirements, it is the same as removing as Kushner will now be mostly useless at his job. This could push Trump to remove Kelly from his job. If you remember, Kushner had to adjust his security clearance at least three times to add further information previously left out.

Trump has begun floating possible names for a future chief of staff in conversations with outside advisers. This includes budget director Mick Mulvaney, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Mark Meadows and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

So now Communications Director Hope Hicks has resigned. Hicks explained her decision saying she told colleagues that she had accomplished what she felt she could with a job that made her one of the most powerful people in Washington, and that there would never be a perfect moment to leave.

But one day after she spent hours testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding its investigation into Russia’s attempted meddling in the 2016 presidential election where she acknowledged that she sometimes told white lies for Trump but insisted that she had never done so in regard to the Russia investigation.

Supposedly Trump berated Hicks after her testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. She was considered one of his closest allies. And now? Betrayal?

During Hicks’ testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, she reportedly admitted to telling white lies on behalf of Trump, but said she never had to lie on substantial issues for him. But “It truly was just a setup of this witness [Hicks], who was trying to be forthright and honest,” according to Utah Rep. Chris Stewart. Funny how no one else complained and why 3 days later?

The Supreme Court said that it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for now, meaning the Trump administration may not be able to end the program March 5 as planned.

Trump right away blamed the Democrats on inaction. Trump has previously claimed his plan will allow 3 times more DACA people than the previous Obama administration. The current DACA program could help protect potentially 1.9 million people [1.3 million at this time] who are eligible – the same as Trump’s plan.

Trump called Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson [the deputy who didn’t enter the school building in Parkland] a “coward” as well as other comments. Not only did Peterson, the armed school resource officer, had not entered the building, but three other deputies were also outside the school and had not entered. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles and not one of them went into the school. Maybe because you don’t go up against a shooter with a handgun while the shooter has an AR15. Why isn’t Trump going after them?

While Trump is pushing for teachers to be armed at schools, the majority of state governors, at a meeting are against that though saying that teachers are there to teach – not police.

Trump hilariously said he would have stormed into the Florida high school to stop the gunman perpetrating the nation’s latest mass shooting “even if I didn’t have a weapon” as he lambasted the inaction of a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school.

Trump raised eyebrows in a meeting by suggesting that law enforcement officials should be able to confiscate people’s firearms without a court order to prevent potential tragedies. Guarantee the NRA won’t like that or Second Amendment hawks.

Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign used a photo of a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in an email that asks its recipients to donate money to the campaign. The email contains a photo of 17-year-old survivor in a hospital bed surrounded by her family, Trump and the first lady. Very tacky. A privacy issue?

Trump appears to be backing away from his call to increase the age limit to 21 for some weapons. Surprised? There was a bipartisan bill to “raise the minimum purchase age for non-military buyers from 18 to 21.” But now Trump has indicated how a soldier could be told he or she could use an assault weapon on the battlefield but not at home to protect his or her family.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he isn’t supportive of the proposals to impose new restrictions on gun purchases, telling reporters “we shouldn’t be banning guns for law abiding citizens.” But then he said “we should be focusing on making sure that citizens who shouldn’t get guns in the first place don’t get those guns.” That last part was right but he is assuming like just about every pro-NRA politician that new rules would apply to those who haven’t been in trouble before.

Asked about arming teachers, Ryan suggested that the issue was not something Congress should take the lead on. But Trump is suggesting to do just that and both are gun related which is probably a federal jurisdiction.

The House passed a bill was attached to another a proposal that loosens gun regulations and allows those with permits to carry concealed weapons to legally travel with those firearms to other states. Take them on airplanes?

Florida state House approves only one part of a gun bill – ban bump stocks [sale and possession]. Failed to ban assault weapons, arm teachers or mental health background check.

Donald Trump Jr. liked a tweet promoting a false conspiracy theory that claimed that Parkland survivor Lauren Hogg’s older brother, David, had been coached by his father — a former FBI agent — to speak out against President Donald Trump.

Of all the congress members only 6 Republicans did NOT receive any financial support from the NRA. In comparison only 24 Democrats did receive support from them – with the most at just $49,000 for his career. Eight Republican lawmakers have been on the receiving end of at least $1 million in campaign contributions from the NRA over the courses of their careers. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is among them.

The state of Georgia is threatening to kill a tax break on jet fuel for Delta airlines after Delta abandoned its relationship with the NRA unless delta goes back to the status quo. Blackmail? Just over a dozen individuals used Delta’s NRA discount.

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial race this year, vowed to “kill any tax legislation” that helps Delta unless it reverses course. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back,” he tweeted. We know where he is getting some of his donations from.

Vermont is home to the nation’s most permissive gun laws saying all you have to do was Google “AR-15 Vermont,” get in touch with a seller, and a few emails later and you could had arranged to exchange the weapon in a parking lot — no ID, background check, license, or wait required.

While some expect Kelly to leave the administration, White House national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster could leave his position in the White House by the end of the month and more likely that McMaster will not return to the military and ultimately will retire as a three-star general.

Out of the blue, Trump wants to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum. Unsure what brought this on [but with him does anything have a reason?]. It was not immediately clear whether Trump would exempt some countries from the tariffs, as his national security advisers have urged him to do to avoid hurting key US allies. Already the move has divided top advisors and caused the Dow Jones to drop 400 points.

He had tweeted “Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!” If you look at the tweet, it is basically the same word he uses when he thinks the US has had a bad deal. For example, with NAFTA he complains about Canada taking advantage of the US but yet it is Canada that has a trade deficit.

Aside from the industries that use Canadian aluminum and steel, various Trump backers and politicians have already complained about how it will actually hurt Americans in the end. For example, American companies will have to purchase more American steel and aluminum which is more expensive. The extra costs would be passed on those that use them. Molson Coors [which uses aluminum for beer cans] are estimating it will add 10% to the price of a beer can. That could cause job loses because of probable loss in beer sales.

According to a report, special counsel Robert Mueller is asking questions about Trump’s business dealings with Russia before Trump’s campaign, a potentially significant development in the investigation. Mueller is also taking a look at Trump’s finances in the run-up to his decision to run for president.

Trump publicly chastised Attorney General Jeff Sessions again over an investigation into alleged surveillance abuses. He tweeted “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” Isn’t this meddling in investigations that involve himself? The attorney general is supposed to be independent – not take orders from the President every time things don’t go his way or has nothing else to tweet about.

Trump’s personal pilot, John Duncan, is on a short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration. [Can Homer Simpson be the new Secretary of the Department of Energy?]

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has called off an official trip to Washington to meet with Trump after a tense phone call brought the two leaders to a policy-driven standstill. Peña Nieto called off the trip in March after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall. At least one Mexican official said Trump “lost his temper.”

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has firmly denied reports about its involvement in secret negotiations with a “Russian intermediary” from whom the agency, along with the NSA, allegedly tried to retrieve a trove of stolen hacking tools. “The fictional story that CIA was bilked out of $100,000 is patently false,” the CIA said in a statement. The agency added that the only “people swindled here were James Risen and Matt Rosenberg,” the authors of the Friday reports in the New York Times and the Intercept.

The vague descriptions of the alleged spy saga described how the US spies were conned by a man they believed was linked to Russian intelligence, who fed them $100,000-worth of ‘gossip’ about Trump instead of the material they were after. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not yet officially commented on the issue.
Former adviser to Trump’s campaign Carter Page claims that the US government [i.e. Obama administration] meddled in more on the last election than the Russians. Page always wasn’t working with a “full deck”.