Trump thinks NK deal still alive, meanwhile Pruitt departs

Donald Trump tweets that “All of Asia is thrilled” that North Korea has halted missile testing and only the “Opposition Party” Democrats, including the “Fake News” is complaining. Halt testing missiles but judging by the recent satellite photos, they are still doing work on them. How does the media doctor photos from his own administration and display them?

Trump also claims “If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!” Let’s see. If anything the US and North Korea were closer to war than probably any of the past few administrations. Did North Korea fire missiles towards Japan or elsewhere prior to this administration? Or fire missiles that often?

Experts say there is no proof North Korea’s halt of nuclear and missile tests means the North will take concrete steps to give up such weapons. They also say the U.S. has an unrealistic approach to North Korea’s denuclearization.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned [or maybe he was fired] amid ethics investigations of outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease.

Pruitt, at one point, directly appealed to Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let him run the Department of Justice instead. In an Oval Office conversation with Trump, Pruitt offered to temporarily replace Sessions for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act, telling Trump he would return to Oklahoma afterward to run for office.

Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry executive, will assume the acting administrator position. Poor guy. He was a lobbyist and a lawyer.

The federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 gives the President the authority to temporarily fill a vacancy at a federal agency if the official “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” Obviously Sessions didn’t die or resign and is able to do his functions and duties. So good luck there Scott!

With the way Pruitt has handled his own department [see below] – let alone his own life – I am sure Trump did the right thing [for once] and turned him down. Hopefully after Pruitt left, trump had a good laugh. I know I would of.

Meanwhile, Pruitt and his aides have kept “secret” calendars and schedules to overtly hide controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives and others, according to a former EPA official who is expected to soon testify before Congress. A review of EPA documents found discrepancies between Pruitt’s official calendar and other records.

Everything that was spent by him during his tenure hit over $4 million.

Trump had told Republicans in Congress recently to stop wasting their time on immigration until after November’s elections, but now Trump is insisting that Congress “FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!” Then he said “When people, with or without children, enter our Country, they must be told to leave … just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn.”

At a rally, Trump mocked the #MeToo movement as he repeatedly attacked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her heritage by saying “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you. I apologize to you. To you I apologize,” he said. “To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.” He has called Warren Pocahontas a few times previously. And if she won the Democratic nomination for 2020 he would ask her to take a DNA test to prove she has Native American blood in her. Like a true racist he used the word “Indian” in his further comments.

Not surprise, Trump also defended Republican candidate Rep. Jim Jordan against allegations he overlooked sexual abuse during his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.

Trump continued a long running fight with California Rep. Maxine Waters by saying “… honestly she is somewhere in the mid-60s.”

Trump then attacked, without naming him, Arizona Sen. John McCain for voting against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and he mocked President George H.W. Bush’s slogan during his rally.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has applied for permission to hire originally 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters and cooks during the winter social season in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s club has asked to hire another 21 who would be cooks from overseas and employ them from October to May.

The postings show that – despite Trump’s insistence that immigration is holding down wages and crowding out native-born American workers – his club believes it cannot find any Americans in South Florida who are qualified to hold two very common restaurant-industry jobs. Mar-a-Lago’s pay for cooks starts at $13.31 per hour, down 3 cents from the year before. The base salary his club is offering to waiters is higher in 2018: It rose from $11.88 per hour last year to $12.68 per hour this year.

Trump appeared to rely on a dubious Fox News report to unleash an attack on his predecessor, accusing President Barack Obama, without any real evidence, of granting citizenship to 2,500 Iranians as part of nuclear deal negotiations. Fox News’ website cited an Iranian news agency that cited an Iranian newspaper that quoted the single Iranian cleric who is also a member of the country’s parliament.

In a whacky bit of news, at a meeting in August 2017 in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the US just simply invade the troubled country? The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.

Breaking with their House Republican counterparts, the Senate Intelligence Committee said that the intelligence community properly concluded in January of last year that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help Donald Trump when Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand. He is making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually.

Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-then-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months. The special counsel’s charter, issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, includes investigating whether Trump or associates colluded with Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

The White House announced that former Fox News president Bill Shine has been appointed as the White House’s new Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Shine was one of Roger Ailes [the former chairman of the Fox News Channel] deputies for years. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds.

Trump is demanding that Norway ramp up its defense spending as a NATO partner, according to a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The letter was one of a series that Trump sent to NATO allies, including Germany, Belgium, Canada and others, demanding they boost spending and threatening to shift the US military presence in Europe if they do not.

According to a report, a draft of a bill from the Trump administration would propose having the US abandon key World Trade Organization principles and offer Trump significantly more discretion over US trade policy. The proposal would give Trump the authority, based on the administration’s assessment of trading policies between nations, to renegotiate or apply tariffs as he sees fit to push individual countries on trade.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders says that Trump is always seeking “good trade deals”. Imposing tariffs is not the right way of doing this. She, meanwhile, also said that during the G7 summit in Canada that Trump proposed that Canada remove all tariffs and subsidies. Of course he said nothing about removing all of the US tariffs imposed on Canada.

She also said that “the US is very nice to Canada” and that Canada took “advantage” of the US. Sure Sarah.

Trump said the World Trade Organization treated the US “very badly”. Hmmm. If you impose tariffs and other trade issues that are imposed for no real reason, what do you expect when you lose probably every trade dispute. By leaving the WTO he doesn’t have to worry about any court cases.

With a new Mexican President, Trump couldn’t wait to say that he had already talked to Mexico or but the Mexican president mentioned nothing about bilateral trade deal.

Unsure if Trump wants a NAFTA trade deal or not. First he wanted to wait until after the Mexican election this past weekend. Now he says he could wait until after the mid-term election which actually could make sense if he thinks he can get a large majority in the Senate that he has now. Good luck there.

July 1st was Canada’s 151st birthday. So the US Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, decided to have a party in Canada’s honor. But no senior government official will attend. The opposition Conservative Party will have maybe 2 senior party members. Why? Protesting against the US tariffs imposed on Canada. In the end, while previous parties usually had 4,000 [!!!] invitations, this one had about 1,000 and excluded a chunk of Ottawa’s [Canada’s capitol] elite.

Canada through $13 billion US tariffs at the US on July 1st. Like the European Union, the tariffs were aimed at specific states where Trump is more popular. More than 40 US steel products attract tariffs of 25%. A tax of 10% has been levied on over 80 other American items including toffee, maple syrup, coffee beans and strawberry jam.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar now estimates that under 3,000 kids who may have been separated from their parents are in government custody — a figure far higher than his department released just recently. HHS had previously reported that it had 2,047 children from separated families in its care. Approximately 100 children under the age of 5.

Trump told space industry notables that he was directing the Department of Defense to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military that sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie. But retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly — a former Navy pilot, combat veteran, four-time space-flyer — doesn’t support it, and some members of Congress are also voicing their distaste for the idea. “This is a dumb idea. The Air Force does this already. That is their job. … What’s next, we move submarines to the 7th branch and call it the ‘under-the-sea force?'”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s official Twitter page mocked Trump over misspelling “pore” in a tweet where Trump was bragging about his writing ability.

Write if you can get work like this: Trump’s 27 year old assistant’s salary was $95,000 last year [matching President Obama’s last assistant] and is now at $135,000.

Michael Cohen dropped the reference “personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump” from his Twitter biography recently.

A new Quinnipiac University poll has a striking result: 49% of people said they believe Trump to be a racist while 47% believe he is not.

Trump ordered American flags to be lowered to half-staff for less than a day or to honor of the victims of deadly shooting at an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper recently. The city’s mayor said the request was initially denied. Trump has repeatedly called journalists the “enemy of the people.”

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

Advertisements

45*’s week in review

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is willing to testify before federal and congressional investigators in their ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the US elections, but only if he is granted immunity. Both Flynn and Donald Trump commented about how various Hillary Clinton associates received immunity and with Flynn saying “when you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.” Trump doesn’t even mind if Flynn testifies. If you want immunity then you probably did something wrong. But why Trump would let it happen?

Meanwhile, Sean “Garlic” Spicer continues to claim that internal “leaks” [i.e. those anonymous sources] are more important to find than verifying if Russia did hack the country’s democracy. Sure.

Democrats are calling on Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to recuse himself from an investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, widening a stunning partisan split over the probe. CNN reported that Nunes visited the White House grounds one day before going to the President with evidence that his transition aides’ communications were picked up in surveillance by US intelligence.

Garlic says that Trump has stopped commenting about the wiretapping that happened before the election but at any time. And now it is “surveillance”.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is possibly in a bit of trouble as he met with the chairman of a Russian state-run bank, Sergey Gorkov, in December. VneshEconomBank [or VEB] has been under US sanctions for almost 3 years. He was appointed to his job by Russian President Vladimir Putin after eight years at Russia’s biggest state-owned commercial bank. The meeting is raising questions both because of the sanctions and because Kushner spent years as a real-estate developer and was trying to attract financing for a building project of his in Manhattan. VEB confirmed the meeting with Kushner, though described Kushner in his role as head of Kushner Companies, not as a representative of Trump.

Trump signed a sweeping executive order at the Environmental Protection Agency, which officials said looks to curb the federal government’s enforcement of climate regulations by putting American jobs above addressing climate change. The order initiates a review of the Clean Power Plan and rescinds the moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands. Specifically, the order rescinds at least six Obama-era executive orders aimed at curbing climate change and regulating carbon emissions.

“I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama/Clinton,” Trump said in October 2016. Bill Clinton’s administration is 20 years old. Hillary had Secretary of State – nothing really to do with the environment directly.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who routinely sued the EPA, argued incorrectly that carbon dioxide isn’t the “primary contributor” to climate change, a comment that goes against most scientific research. So if coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung disease, is bad for them, wouldn’t it be bad for the environment?
“They [coal miners] have not been treated well, but they’re going to be treated well now” said Trump in March. Yup with higher healthcare costs due to CWP.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the executive order signed by Trump will undo the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The 2015 rule has been on hold since last year while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly Republican-led states and more than 100 companies. Pruitt himself has sued the EPA numerous times before becoming the EPA head.

Meanwhile, the amount of coal miner jobs have been decreasing for the last decades under many Democrat and Republican presidents. In addition, various environmental groups are ready to take the government to court.

Steven Mnuchin is under fire promoting Lego Batman as a producer of the movie as he indirectly promoted his movie against ethics laws.

The House voted to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration, a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.

After the Trumpcare disaster, Trump blamed the Democrats but now is putting [some of] the blame on at least a couple of conservative group who voted mostly against Trumpcare. Trump said he believes moderate Democrats could help him in the future. Good luck there.

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” tweeted Trump as the Freedom Caucus was one of the guilty parties behind Trumpcare’s failure. The tweet represented a bold strike against the most conservative members of the House GOP coalition, who often come from safe districts and are frequently impervious to pressure from party leaders.

Trump, has reacted to the defeat of health care by predicting that Democrats will be willing to work with him down the road, especially if Obamacare spirals into decline. In his dreams.

Congress must pass and Trump must sign a spending bill that authorizes federal funding to succeed a current temporary spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, the current version of which expires on April 28. If not, there could be a government shutdown on April 29th – Trump’s 100th day in office. Once again, the GOP could be split along the same lines as the Obamacare repealing failure.

More complications if the GOP use the “nuclear option” confirmation of Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch to changing Senate rules to get around a Senate filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Such a step would inflame passions even more in polarized Washington and likely leave Democrats even more resistant to crossing the aisle and working with Trump.

According to a report, the White House approved almost $1 billion to build 48 miles of a new wall on the border with Mexico and to replace another 14 miles. Considering these pieces of the wall are in areas [Rio Grande Valley region, San Diego] where it is mostly easy to move equipment to, I wonder what the price tag will be like in areas in the wilderness where there is no roads nearby or even a town.

It cost the NYPD and the New York City Fire Department a combined total of $25.7 million to protect President Trump‘s family, private home and office for the 75 days between Election Day and Inauguration Day [about $343,000 per day].

The U.S. Secret Service has also requested an additional $60 million in funding for the next year — $26.8 million of which would go toward guarding President Trump’s family and Trump Tower home [about $74,000 per day].

Finally, each weekend costs an extra $3.3 million per weekend [about $1.1 million per day] to protect Trump (and family) at the Mar-A-Lago location.

While campaigning in 2016 Trump claimed that “I don’t have time” for golf if President. Spicer has defended Trump’s golfing habit by citing the time he hosted the Japanese leader, arguing Trump utilized golf to “foster deeper relations.” And the other 12 times he has golfed [as of the end of March]?

A spokeswoman for the Washington Nationals said that the White House said Trump would not be at next week’s game at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins because of a scheduling conflict. This breaks a tradition that was started in 1910 where the President through the first pitch to start the baseball season.

Wow! Despite President Donald Trump’s lack of evidence for his claim that millions of votes were cast illegally in last year’s election, some of his supporters are standing by the conspiracy theory. One New Hampshire Trump voter, said he saw “busloads of people” coming into New Hampshire to vote illegally. He did not provide specific details or evidence, but said he thought they were either undocumented immigrants or US citizens coming from other states. Another said he saw cars with out-of-state license plates full of people coming to vote, though he couldn’t provide any more details about them.

Katie Walsh, the White House’s deputy chief of staff, has left the administration but joined a nonprofit group supporting the President’s agenda. Second staff member to exit after disgraced Michael Flynn.

Not surprising LGBQ will not be an option in the next census due in 2020.
Although unknown which model, Trump finally switched to an iPhone but he may still have his Galaxy S3.

While there was a settlement approved in November after the election, where student should get about 90% of their fees back, a Trump university student/victim doesn’t want to settle until she sees Trump in court. The court still has yet to approve the settlement.

Two polls released recently asked Republican voters if what Trump said was true about the wiretapping and 60% believe him. “Trump would have never said that [Obama wiretapped him] unless it was true. That’s too much of a gamble for him to take. His reputation, you know?” said a senior in Ohio. Reputation? Trump?

A group of Democratic members of Congress are playing the clever acronym game again. One of the latest to be introduced and to target the Trump administration: the “Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act.” Yes, the “MAR-A-LAGO Act.”

The legislation would require the publication of White House visitor logs, something that was done regularly by the Obama administration but has since ended since President Trump took office. It would also mandate the release of visitor logs at other locations where the president conducts business — for example, Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort that he has recently called the Southern White House.

After claiming she would be one of the most photographed people in the world after threatening any media from claiming she was a high priced escort, she rarely steps outside of Trump tower in New York. Even at gatherings [from a White House luncheon to celebrate International Women’s Day to reading a Dr. Seuss book at a school], the media have been ordered to leave the premises when she speaks [hiding her accent?].

The hashtag #FreeMelania is now a pillar of Twitter-speak, while questions about the Trumps’ marriage inspire headlines such as “Melania’s Struggle,” an Us Weekly yarn that claimed the first lady is “secretly miserable.”

After Melania finally did something as First Lady by doing a keynote speech at a conference empowering women, her hubby claims her polling numbers went through the roof. Of course there wasn’t any poll. Of course he could have been joking. [She probably would have better polling numbers than he does and she’s basically done almost nothing.]

If you walk into Trump Tower in New York, you can find Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line is on display in the lobby. Visitors can find books, coffee mugs and after-shave lotion bearing the name and visage of him. Can imagine what they charge.

While campaigning in 2016 Trump claimed that “I don’t have time” for golf if elected president. Spicer has defended Trump’s golfing habit by citing the time he hosted the Japanese leader, arguing Trump utilized golf to “foster deeper relations.” And the other 12 times he has golfed [as of the end of March]?

[Note: “45*” is the 45th President of the United States. The asterisk is borrowed from the days when Roger Maris had an asterisk besides his name (for some) when he beat Babe Ruth’s then homerun record in a season but played more games to do it.]