FBI investigation into Trump intensifies while Trump acts like a child

And I thought last week was busy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump just loves to change his tune

Special counsel Robert Mueller seems to have built in safeguards to discourage Donald Trump from pardoning Paul Manafort. The plea deal Mueller struck with Manafort contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage the former Trump aide from seeking a pardon and to rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant.

A part of the deal says that if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors immediately have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed previously or confessed to during recent plea negotiations.

The agreement also says prosecutors can come after the five identified homes or apartments, three bank accounts and a life insurance policy now or at any point in the future “without regard to the status of his criminal conviction.”

“We had a good saying that we’ve held firm to this day, as the dean was reminding me before the talk, which was ‘What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep,” Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said in a 2015 speech at Catholic University of America’s law school.

Kavanaugh’s nomination vote has been delayed until the following week to allow the Judiciary Committee to question him as well as his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, regarding his alleged sexual assault on her when she was 15.

Once again, unsure if Trump is human. Being insensitive, Trump said of the hardship on Kavanaugh’s family’s life and of course Kavanaugh with Trump saying “hurting someone’s life very badly” and his reputation.

Trump claims that the FBI “doesn’t do that” that is investigate whether what Ford said was true. But in fact, the FBI don’t investigate issues like this unless ordered to do so. There is a difference.

Not surprising Ford’s life has been threatened. FBI investigating. [See Trump, something they actually do.]

When Trump finally addressed the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh were quietly stunned when Trump said the process should be followed and the accuser should be heard. In recent days, Trump has bragged about the positive coverage he’s received for his response, according to multiple sources. This helped his ego. Not really positive coverage – more like stunned.

You knew it wouldn’t last long. Trump, in a series of tweets, deviated from his previously measured comments about Ford who has accused Kavanugh of sexual assault, claiming that if the attack she alleges “was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities”. He also said Kavanaugh is “under assault by radical left wing politicians.”

Trump asked why no one called the Federal Bureau of Investigation 36 years ago. The FBI would not have jurisdiction in the case at the time of the alleged assault. Among the most common reasons for not reporting these incidents were fear of reprisal, shame and a belief that authorities could or would do nothing to help. [Maybe something Trump will learn once he is charged with those alleged assaults from him.]

Ford said she told no one at the time what had happened to her, and was terrified of punishment from her parents if they realized she had been at a party where underage drinking was happening.

“There’s no reason to attack her. The president is defending his nomination to the United States Supreme Court as a man of character, integrity, impeccable academic and judicial qualifications,” counselor to Trump, Kellyanne The Witch Conway said when asked about Trump’s original measured response to the allegations. How she was wrong…. again. Just a few days before Trump said “Why would I attack her?”

In his May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, it makes Trump more vulnerable to claims that he obstructed justice. So Trump’s legal team have come up with a curious explanation: The interview was “edited” and that’s why people are confused about what Trump meant. Of course no evidence of this is provided.

Previously NBC announced an interview with Trump. The next day, Trump fired FBI director James Comey. White House stated that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had officially recommended Comey’s firing, and Trump had just accepted the recommendation.

But Trump went off script saying to Holt, “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.” The camera stayed on Trump the entire time.

Trump vowed to eradicate a “lingering stench” at the Justice Department, hours after it was reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed wearing a “wire” to record conversations with Trump and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office according to sources familiar with memos authored by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe documenting the discussions.

“But we had some real bad ones — you see what’s happened at the FBI, they’re all gone, they’re all gone, they’re all gone. But there’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.” Hmmm. Only 3 know FBI agents have left.

“I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false,” Rosenstein said.

Trump has to get political even in a disaster. the only question is what took him so long. For example “… But don’t be fooled, at some point in the near future the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”

In an interview with The Hill, Trump said about Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.” He also said that he is “very disappointed” in him.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell claims that Trump recently suggested Spain should build a wall across the Sahara desert to deal with the issue of migration from Africa. Notice the problem? The Sahara desert isn’t in Spain. Most of the migrants come in from the sea.

The Chinese government said that it would impose tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration’s announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs. The White House warned previously that it would respond to any retaliation from Beijing with yet more tariffs.

Then Trump tweeted “China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me.” Hmmm. When did they “openly state” that? If you remove farmers, ranchers and industrial workers, what is left to apply tariffs to after you applied 4 times the amount on China?

“Canada has taken advantage of our country for a long time” said Trump. Let’s see. 325 million in the US [excluding illegals], 37 million in Canada. So the US has 9 times the number of people and yet couldn’t make a deal Trump would like? On the other hand, he doesn’t like anything related to trade unless he can slap on tariffs or knows he got a steal of a deal.

Trump tweeted “Our Steel Industry is the talk of the World. It has been given new life, and is thriving. Billions of Dollars is being spent on new plants all around the country!” Yes, since tariffs were imposed on July 1st, steel plants have suddenly popped up all over the US. I think not. If everything goes well, most steel plants take at least 20 months to build and that’s only after approvals and funding are done.

“Tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with Billions of Dollars, and Jobs, flowing into our Country – and yet cost increases have thus far been almost unnoticeable,” Trump tweeted. But this is Trump. So whatever he said usually is a streaming pile of rubbish. Already prices of vehicle and infrastructure have increased.

Yes. The US economy is doing so well, Wells Fargo is adding to the unemployment lines. Wells Fargo plans to cut as many as 26,500 jobs over three years as the troubled bank grapples with the rise of online banking and soaring legal bills. It sold off branches in 3 mid-west states in June.

The Trump administration’s trade wars with China, Canada and others are starting to affect the US. Alibaba is dropping its promise to create 1 million jobs in the US. This came after Walmart asked the Trump administration to walk back its plan to put tariffs on Christmas lights, shampoo, dog food, luggage, mattresses, handbags, backpacks, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, cooking grills, cable cords and air conditioners.

Other retailers and consumer goods companies, including Ace Hardware, Target and Joann fabric and craft stores, also lobbied the administration. The administration imposed tariffs on those goods – although it did spare bicycle helmets, high chairs, car seats and playpens from the final list. It also left off Apple Watches and Air Pods, a reprieve for Apple.

Trump’s refugee plan for the coming year would nearly halve the number of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. By contrast, some regions would see increased caps. The number of refugees from Latin America would double in fiscal year 2019.

Trump tweeted “Today, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we share our gratitude for all the ways Hispanic-Americans make our country flourish and prosper. Today, and every day, we honor, cherish, and celebrate Hispanic-American Workers, Families, Students, Businesses, and Leaders…” After his comments about Hispanics, I’m sure it wasn’t him who tweeted those words.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of CNN’s Anderson Cooper about a picture in water in Hurricane “Florence” and made some dumb whiney comments. In fact the picture is 10 years ago. What a genius…

A little reminder that the blog’s primary focus is on Donald Trump and not about US politics in general. Therefore you won’t see the blog detailing more about [for example] the Kavanaugh/Ford legal mess unless Trump gets involved or one of his subordinates if of use. The economy, however, would be included as it is related to the administration’s policies.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a quiet week? Nope.

You would of figured with the US government on a holiday break that this would have been a quiet week. But nope!

Donald Trump says is battling to reduce regulations but the tax bill adds to it including new tax brackets.

Meanwhile, unlike corporations, the tax cuts will benefit households until 2025. Why would the cuts expire for households and not corporations? Hmmm. Republicans made individual tax cuts temporary so they could meet budget rules that let them pass their tax overhaul with no Democratic votes.

Republicans used a procedural tactic to avoid a filibuster, a maneuver that can only be used once every fiscal year.

In the lawn in front of the White House, Trump proclaimed it a win [definitely for him as it was his only major legislative win in his first year]. Talking to the media, Trump praised the people behind him who helped pass the bill – all Republicans – a sea of mostly older white males, a couple of females and one African-American [who is right near Trump].

Trump has made the rollicking year on Wall Street a centerpiece of his political message, repeatedly taking credit for the bull run, as if he personally steered the Dow Jones industrial average through a year of smashed record highs. We will see what happens if there is a “market correction” or the markets slowly fall. For him, I think he’d be celebrating even if the market was a single point over the amount when President Obama left.

Earlier this month House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a radio interview the House would be working to reform health care entitlements in 2018, calling them “the big drivers of our debt” and Medicare as being the “biggest entitlement that’s got to have reform.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “would not expect to see” the Senate tackle entitlement reform next year.” We will see who’s right.

After reviewing scores of statements made by politicians this year, non-partisan PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking media outlet, has declared that the big winner of “Lie of the Year” for 2017 goes to one told by Trump! Trump said on NBC that “This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Trump’s had threatened to cut off US funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has raised the stakes in a UN vote sponsored by Egypt and sparked criticism at his tactics, which could be called bullying or blackmail. “We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” he said, alluding to US aid. The Us lost the vote [128 countries voted yes] with a bunch abstaining. We will see how many [including Egypt] will lose aid.

US vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the US Embassy there.

Many expected Trump, after first taking office at the beginning of 2017, to do some bipartisan legislation – something that both sides could [mostly] agree on. This would of given Trump the passing of a first piece of major legislation early instead of about 2 weeks before the end of the year.

Despite promising a $1 trillion infrastructure bill during the campaign, Trump’s plan is shaping up differently and set to be unveiled in the middle of January. The plan would propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure projects over the next decade, with the hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding. The plan will provide the administration’s principles for infrastructure reform that lawmakers can then craft into a bill.

In his first presidential budget, Trump proposed allocating the $200 billion over 10 years for infrastructure projects. But Trump’s budget cut infrastructure spending overall by $55 billion by slashing programs that write grants for highway renovation, Native American water facilities and rural airports.

Trump again took to Twitter to criticize the FBI, this time singling out two FBI officials. “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump wrote in one tweet. In another tweet, Trump said McCabe “is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!” Trump also took aim at FBI general counsel James Baker, who is being reassigned, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Trump is referencing donations to Dr. Jill McCabe’s campaign, something reported by the Wall Street Journal last year. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee made six contributions totaling $467,500 to McCabe’s campaign, the Journal reported. In addition, campaign records show that the state Democratic Party, over which McAuliffe has great influence, made two other payments totaling $207,788 in September and October 2015. These donations all occurred before McCabe took over as deputy director of the FBI and before he would have had any oversight into the Clinton email investigation. So again he tweets out fake news.

Trump said that he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller is “going to be fair” in his investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russian officials. His comments made during an interview with The New York Times come after Republicans and supporters of Trump had raised questions over Mueller and his investigative team.
Trump told the Times: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.” A bit like a dictatorship.

The White House strongly pushed back on a report that Trump spoke about immigrants in a dismissive and demeaning fashion with top administration officials. The denial came in response to explosive reporting from the New York Times, which wrote that, according to two unnamed officials, Trump said during a meeting in June that people coming from Haiti “all have AIDS,” that recent Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” in Africa and that Afghanistan is a terrorist haven.

Trump claims he is ready to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] with Canada and Mexico in a minute. He is claiming the US had a $17 billion deficit with Canada when a government office says in fact the US had a $12 billion surplus. Where does he get his fake facts from?

Puerto Rico authorities say nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said the entire island will have power by May – just in time for the next hurricane season.

Trump went after the US Postal Service because they charge too little to Amazon for delivering packages. USPS competes with FedEx and UPS to deliver parcels — but its rates are set by a commission appointed by the president, and almost every aspect of its operations are governed by Congress. But the USPS hasn’t been able to compensate for collapsing letter mail volumes due to a 2006 law that capped price increases at the rate of inflation and also limited the proportion of its budget that could be devoted to its parcel business.

Trump has sway over the Postal Service. He’s made four board nominations, who are currently awaiting Senate action. By law, it’s supposed to have 9 appointed members, and currently it has none. So in the end, Trump should blame himself. Trump went after Amazon because Amazon’s CEO is nemesis Steve Bezos.

Trump claimed that his approval ratings at this point in his presidency rival those of Barack Obama, citing a report from “Fox & Friends.” The three-day averages released on December 28, 2009 [the day Trump cited in his tweet] showed 51% approval for Obama with 43% disapproval. On December 28 of this year, Gallup released a three-day average showing 38% approval for Trump with 56% disapproval.

Trump has had the worst approval rating at the end of his first calendar year in the White House since the dawn of modern polling, sinking to a new low of 35% in a new CNN poll in December.

Trump tweeted on the day after Christmas that it is back to work. But he was seeing playing golf for part of the day.

May be not specifically targeting CNN, but an unmarked white truck was blocking CNN’s cameras from taking video of Trump playing golf this week. Every time Trump moved on the course, so did the truck. The truck was on a public road. Nice way for the truck driver to make a living.

Already at least one high speed rail station [not built yet], a renaming of a street in a Muslim area [this should set off fireworks], a park set to be open next year and a new street to be named after Trump as he pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Guatemala is the only other country that announced that they will follow. The rail station will garner plenty of protesting as it goes near some holy sites [in addition to possible further issues if some archeological areas are uncovered].

A man claiming to be the person who delivered a gift-wrapped package of horse manure at the Los Angeles home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he did it to protest the federal tax overhaul signed into law last week by Trump. Nice Christmas present!

For years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called on Washington to make it less costly for his company to bring back the billions of dollars it holds overseas. As part of the tax bill signed last week by Trump, corporations like Apple (will enjoy a repatriation tax rate of 15.5% for returning money to the US from their overseas cash piles.

At the end of the most recent quarter, Apple had $268.9 billion in cash and marketable securities, more than $250 billion of which was held outside the US. The question is whether or not Apple will bring most or all the money back to the US and whether they will do something with the money. Apple has already committed to a $300 billion capital return program that includes buybacks and dividends for shareholders.

While visiting a fire station, in a speech, Trump said “We have signed more legislation than anybody — we broke the record of Harry Truman.” Nope! Trump signed 96 pieces of items in 2017 but almost all were Executive Orders and minor bills – not major legislation. Truman signed more than 250. He then got bored and talked about giving the police military style equipment. Why? Can’t he stick with fire station related comments? Some bills overhaul entire sections of US law while others rename post offices and other federal buildings.

While at his Mar-A-Lago, where the temperature was 72 degrees. “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” What Trump doesn’t seem to understand or maybe ignore is that “weather” and “climate” are not the same thing.

Oh. 8 of the warmest years on record in the US have occurred since 2008. So that is climate – not weather. From NASA: “Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”

A video posted by Vanity Fair on their web site before Christmas which featured a handful of Vanity Fair staffers offering cheeky New Year’s resolutions for Hillary Clinton, didn’t get much attention when it was first published on December 23. But after complaints by pro-Clinton supporters a few days later, Vanity Fair sort of apologized.

That’s when Trump came into the picture by tweeting [as the issue was dying] “Vanity Fair, which looks like it is on its last legs, is bending over backwards in apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H. Anna Wintour …. is beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!” Wintour is Vogue [same owner as Vanity Fair]. Vanity Fair’s previous editor, Graydon Carter, has had a famous public spat going on with Trump for years. Carter dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.”

So Roy Moore [I don’t want to mention his title because he doesn’t deserve it] is using Trump’s playbook by claiming there were massive vote fraud in Alabama from out of state Hispanics and African-Americans. But the state didn’t take this crap and issued a report that there was none. Doug Jones was certified the winner. [I wish the state would charge Moore with something and pay for any recounts and the investigation.]

For the first time in more than two decades, a sitting President has missed the Kennedy Center Honors. The annual recognition of the arts — lauding luminaries from various fields, as they rub elbows with the Washington elite. Trump’s rationale was that by staying away, he would allow the attendees to celebrate without “political distraction.” Most [if not all] of the honorees are Democratic party faithful.

In her opening remarks, Caroline Kennedy said that would have normally sounded benign felt pointed in the current climate, as she spoke of her father’s commitment to “the rule of law, to religious tolerance and racial justice, to nuclear disarmament and scientific innovation.”

Singer Joy Villa, a Trump supporter, has filed a police report against former Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who she says sexually assaulted her at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on November 28. Villa says Lewandowski slapped her bottom hard twice while posing for a picture.

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania, said Republican candidates facing re-election would have to surpass challenging hurdles, among them Trump’s divisive nature as the figurehead of the party. He is retired when his term ends in 2018.

Remember how Trump [and Wisconsin governor] were ecstatic that Foxconn would build a huge plant there with $3 billion in incentives? Those incentives have grown to $4 billion. It will take until at least 2043 for the state to recoup that lost tax revenue. On top of that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at a low 3.2%. This could be a problem in finding an estimated 13,000 jobs [at $53,000 per year] to fill the plant. Would have been better in a state with higher unemployment.

A White House senior adviser, Frank Wuco, at the Department of Homeland Security promoted several far-right conspiracy theories in past radio appearances. Wuco is a former naval intelligence officer and conservative talk radio host Among the conspiracy theories Wuco pushed were claims that former President Barack Obama’s memoir was ghost written by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, claims that former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam and claims Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.

Wuco pushed false claims during radio appearances that Obama was not born in the US, made disparaging comments about the LGBT community, and lamented what he called the “Zimbabwe-fication” of America.

According to a CNN poll, just 35% of Americans approve of Trump, meaning it is not politically risky for Democrats to stand opposed to him. Additionally, the base of the Democratic Party is unified around their opposition of Trump as 93% of Democrats disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job.

 

Fox News goes after Mueller

Both Donald Trump and his former chief political strategist Steve Bannon are urging Roy Moore to concede, as the defiant Republican Senate candidate refuses to admit defeat to Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama senate election.

Fox News personalities truly seem more outraged at Robert Mueller than at the Russian government for attacking the US democracy. Sean Hannity declaring that Mueller and his team of investigators were an “utter disgrace.” Hannity then amped up the hysterics by claiming that this investigation poses a “direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic,” as he called for Mueller to resign.

Fox’s Lou Dobbs proclaimed it was “time to kill the investigation.” Dobbs then bizarrely added that “the person who should be investigated is Barack Obama.” Why? Because the Russian interference “occurred under his administration.” Apparently he thinks that Obama helped Trump get elected so that Trump could try to dismantle every accomplishment of his presidency.

Former Speaker of the House and Fox News political contributor Newt Gingrich, who had praised Mueller when he was first appointed in May as a “superb choice” whose reputation was “impeccable for honesty and integrity,” said on air this week that “Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt.”

Trump tweeted “Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Can you tell if he’s talking about the FBI’s man hours and money or those of the Democrats? If you do not know them, you usually never met them!

Trump claimed that he didn’t know or had never met the [fifteen] women accusing him of sexual harassment and assault, despite evidence to the contrary. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders qualified the comment during her daily press briefing, saying Trump was only referring to the three women who appeared at the news to reiterate their accusations against Trump. That’s despite the fact Trump’s tweet made no such specification. [I wonder if anyone takes Sanders seriously.]

Trump did not dismiss the idea of pardoning former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.

While Trump continues to go after FBI, claiming it needs to be reformed, but then he told some FBI students that he has “their backs.” Doesn’t seem like it if you are going after the department you belong to.

It is, however, a well-known [but hushed] fact that the FBI tends to lean towards the right. So Trump’s constant bickering about the FBI doing the Democrat’s work is nonsense.

Trump tweeted “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Trump’s standard type tweet: attack one and then attack someone at the end who have nothing to do with the first person attacked.

Trump attacked Gillibrand who has called for his resignation after multiple women renewed their sexual misconduct allegations against him. When he said she was a “lightweight” who would “do anything” for campaign contributions. Trump didn’t explain further what he meant.

“This is the same sentiment the President has expressed many times before,” Sanders said during the daily briefing. “The system is clearly broken and it’s clearly rigged for special interests. This President can’t be bought and it’s one of the reasons he’s President today.” [Are you laughing?]

According to Federal Election Commission documents, Trump donated $4,800 to Gillibrand for Senate in 2010 and $2,100 to Gillibrand Victory Fund in 2007. Trump went to her campaign office – she didn’t go to his office.

USA Today editorial board bashed Trump as “a president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush” after Trump’s tweet against her.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, Trump’s Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, who is also an African-American, will leave her. Initially it was said that she resigned but reports say she was fired – escorted out of the White House. If so, she would be a two time fired person as he fired her on The Apprentice.

But Manigault Newman repeatedly denied reports of a dramatic confrontation between with White House chief of staff John Kelly, to ask Trump about her dismissal or physically escorted her out of the White House. Supposedly, both Kelly and former chief of staff Reince Priebus wanted to let Manigault Newman go, adding that many in the White House had little idea what she did.

Sanders could not give an actual account of the number of non-whites in the Trump administration. In fact when Manigault Newman leaves, there will be 2 in senior positions.

Trump will authorize the acting NASA administrator Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. to “lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars”. [I have a suggestion of who should be first to go…]

After Trump announced that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol and it would help with the peace efforts, UN ambassador Nikki Haley repeated what Trump said. Meanwhile, probably all Muslim countries consider the efforts dead and/or cannot trust the US to mediate.

A Trump judicial nominee, Matthew Spencer Petersen, who currently serves as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, struggled to answer basic legal questions posed to him by a Republican senator, including his lack of experience on trial work, the amount of depositions he’d worked on and more. He was asked [among others] how many depositions Petersen had worked on [less than five], federal trials [no], state trials [no] and the last time he had read the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure — he said he couldn’t remember. He should of recused himself instead of wasting time.

With Disney buying a big chunk of 21st Century Fox which owns various Fox Trump was worried what would happen to his [precious] Fox News even though the deal already said that Fox News would not be sold off. Does he read?

“The Coca Cola company is not happy with me–that’s okay, I’ll still keep drinking that garbage,” said Trump in 2012. But he drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke a day.

According to a report, people who report drinking artificially sweetened beverages end up at higher risk than non-diet soda drinkers for lots of negative outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stroke, as well as dementia. Some research suggests that artificially sweetened drinks can increase one’s appetite and the desire for sweets.

A Boston University School of Medicine study from this year found that people who reported drinking at least one can of an artificially sweetened soft drink each day were almost three times as likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot, compared with those who avoided these diet beverages. One-a-day diet soda drinkers were nearly three times as likely as those who never drink diet soda to be diagnosed with dementia, as well, the researchers found.

Trump signed into law legislation that bans the use of Kaspersky Lab within the U.S. government, capping a months-long effort to purge the Moscow-based antivirus firm from federal agencies amid concerns it was vulnerable to Kremlin influence.

Sean “Garlic” Spicer is writing a book called The Briefing, to be release next summer by a “prominent” conservative publisher. Don’t expect anything revealing about Trump. Even then, it will be checked out by government officials to make sure nothing of national security will be mentioned. So it will be boring as hell and will be in the high discounted bins within a few months of release.

A former Fox News anchor Juliet Huddy said that Trump tried to kiss her in an elevator in “2005 or 2006,” which she said surprised her but did not make her feel threatened. It’s unclear whether Trump was married at the time since she  does not recall the exact date. “He took me for lunch at Trump Tower, just us two. He said goodbye to me in an elevator while his security guy was there; rather than kiss me on the cheek he leaned in to kiss me on the lips.”

The FCC has killed net neutrality rules. The rules required [among other things] all traffic has equal strength. One ISP cannot limit the traffic speed [example Netflix] while allow others [for example their own services] to get a regular or higher speed. Not surprisingly, Trump wants the net neutrality rules killed as he wants to kill as much regulation.

Congress has 60 legislative days to act once the rule is submitted. The Senate will have to enact the resolution by a simple majority and the President has veto power. Democrats are against removing the regulations.

After the FCC repealed the Obama-era net neutrality rules, Trump held a press conference to claim that more than 1,500 regulatory actions have been delayed or canceled by his administration in 2017.

Sanders said the administration “supports” the decision to repeal net neutrality – and the idea of a “free and fair internet.” Well not really free and it isn’t fair if an ISP restricts the traffic speed from a competitor while giving their own services more speed. If you are using [for example] Amazon’s Prime video service and your ISP is throttling the speed, you would probably want to switch to another ISP. I know I would.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he will sue to stop the “illegal rollback” of Net Neutrality following the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal it.

Trump was all happy when he announced that one poll had his approval rating at 46%. But his disapproval rating was 51%. I think most leaders would not be advertising that more than half of the country disapproves him.

Trump still is boasting his election win. “And we didn’t get to 270; we got 306,” he declared, according to a transcript of his remarks, which the press was not permitted to view. “That’s even better, right? So we had an amazing time.” He’s forgetting the loss in various elections including in Alabama this past week.

Russian hacker Konstantin Kozlovsky testified to carrying out attacks at the request of the Russian FSB (the KGB-successor). The testimony is a first-hand account of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election that directly contradicts Putin’s denials of any involvement. Now will it lead anything to Trump or his team.

One wacky week with wacky Trump

Warning: It is a nutty week. This blog is “extended today”.

In a signed letter, Donald Trump informed [former] FBI Director James Comey that he was “hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” explaining that he reached the conclusion that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the bureau.” Trump was praising Comey during and after the election. 5 months later, Trump had a change of heart?

The White House said that Comey was fired based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a separate letter, Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey’s firing, arguing that it was his transgressions over the Clinton email investigation that were the cause of his dismissal. Errr. Trump didn’t even meet him. Comey was in Los Angeles.

In his letter to Comey firing him, Trump thanked him for telling him three times “that I am not under investigation.” The FBI has not confirmed that Comey ever made those assurances to the president. Former FBI agents said such a statement by the director would be all but unthinkable.

Comey reportedly thought his removal was a prank. Trump had been planning to oust Comey for at least a week Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been charged with finding a good pretext.

Then Trump tweeted “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”

Days before he was fired by Trump, Comey requested more resources to pursue his investigation into Russia’s election meddling and the possible involvement of Trump associates, U.S. officials say, fueling concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency. That same type of action help bring down Richard Nixon.

Trump said that he was going to fire Comey with or without Rosenstein’s memo criticizing the director. Meanwhile White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “…the rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” Sure Sarah. Took a poll?

Seems Trump was also jealous that Comey was getting more of the spotlight than him saying he was a show-off, agreed about Obama’s surveillance and would not exonerate him in the Russia mess. White House officials said Trump’s confidence in Comey had been eroding for months and Trump was persuaded to take the step by Justice Department officials and a scathing memo, written by Rosenstein, criticizing the director’s role in the Clinton investigation.

Andrew McCabe, top deputy to ex-FBI Director Comey, could be a contender for the Director’s role. He is now acting director. But McCabe’s actions are among the decisions being scrutinized in an ongoing Justice Department inspector general probe of the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. One issue is whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton case after his wife [running for senate] received large campaign contributions from the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally.

As well, Trump may kill the press briefings [what will Sean “Garlic” Spicer do?] by releasing press releases to keep the answers accurate. This maybe because deputy WH press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders contradicted some things Trump said.

Garlic literally hid in the bushes to avoid press after Comey was fired. Didn’t know what to do. Maybe unrelated, Spicer is spending his week at the Pentagon for Navy reserve duty for the rest of the week. Huckabee-Sanders replaced him.

“When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” Trump tweeted. Clapper, however, qualified his remarks by saying he had been unaware of an FBI investigation into the matter until Comey announced it to the public at a House hearing in March. So Trump using more outdated information.

President Barack Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser during their Oval Office meeting on November 10, former Obama administration officials confirmed to CNN.

Trump’s travel ban is back in the spotlight with a high-stakes legal battle in front of a dozen federal judges in Richmond, Virginia. Normally, such an appeal from a district court’s decision would be heard by a randomly assigned panel of three judges, and the losing party may ask for it to be reheard by the full court. Yet in this case, the judges on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided it should be heard by the full court — otherwise known as “en banc” — in the first instance. Ten of the 15 active judges on the court are either Clinton or Obama appointees.

“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” said Raul Labrador, the Republican congressman in response to a statement by a woman that the “lack of health care was essentially asking people to die.” The Democrats confirmed with this quote that they are out of touch with the average person and simply don’t understand (or don’t care) about the real-world implications of their policy proposals.

Canada may retaliate against Trump’s softwood [a.k.a. house] lumber by either adding stiff tariffs to Oregon plywood, wine, flooring, wood chips and packaging materials [a congressman from there was one of the hawks in the lumber tariffs] or maybe coal from Washington state [which is shipped through harbors in British Columbia] to Asia [Trump wants to increase coal productivity. Another option is to lean heavily on 35 states that trade quite a bit with Canada. While none of the tariffs would affect Canadians as much, it would affect 2 US industries. The Trump administration says it won’t be pressured by trade threats from the Canadian government. I guess they don’t care who gets hurt.

Several American companies that rely on Canadian softwood say thousands of American jobs are at risk unless the U.S. Department of Commerce exempts them from hefty duties imposed on imported softwood lumber.

In an interview, Trump said “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.” This won’t stop him for being prosecuted if he said something that contradicted his tax returns such as owning property in Russia.

Revelations that the sister of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, promoted a program offering a path to U.S. citizenship to Chinese backers in a Kushner family project bring new scrutiny to a foreign investor visa program. Marketing materials for the event promoted Nicole Kushner Meyer as Jared’s sister, and cited the Kushner family’s “celebrity” status. Yes, celebrities like in one of Trump’s shows. The project promoted by Meyer in Beijing is a 79-story apartment building called Kushner 1.

As part of such deals, investors typically accept below-market investment returns to qualify for a visa, allowing the developer to pocket the savings on financing costs. After as little as two years, participants can apply for a fast-track green card and later U.S. citizenship.

Meanwhile, after seeing advertisements for what was described as a “Kushner event featuring Jared’s sister,” in Beijing a Canadian reporter decided to attend. Then she was asked to leave. The Beijing-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was seated apart from her colleague, who faced similar resistance from the hosts. Some of her colleague’s video and audio was deleted by the event organizers on the Chinese side. “I later heard from another reporter — who tweeted a picture — that there was indeed a picture of President Trump … on a slide that said ‘key decision makers.'” Seems that Nicole Kushner Meyer has now been removed of her duties.

In signing an omnibus bill, Trump said in a statement: “My administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender … in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.” This could be code wording for “Unlike previous administrations, I won’t give historically black college financing, Native American housing block grants and minority business development anything more than what is required by law.” [i.e. Bare minimum.] I am assuming someone wrote this because I’m not sure how much of the constitution he knows and it doesn’t sound like him.

Maybe Trump finally did something right. The recently signed cybersecurity executive order requires federal agencies to adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (Cybersecurity Framework; the agency heads have 90 days to prepare a report describing how they will implement the Framework. The previous administration had encouraged adoption of the framework, but did not make it a requirement.

Don’t you just love Trump? “[Former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is “no evidence” of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” Except Clapper said that he was unaware of evidence suggesting there was any.

Then he said “Biggest story today between Clapper & Yates is on surveillance. Why doesn’t the media report on this? #FakeNews!” Except the idea that the surveillance story is a bigger deal than Russia having compromising information about the national security adviser is nonsense.

Steve Munoz, a political appointee hired by the Trump administration for a significant State Department role was accused of multiple sexual assaults as a student several years ago at The Citadel military college. Five male freshmen alleged that Munoz used his positions as an upperclassman, class president and head of the campus Republican Society to grope them. So he fits in well with Trump’s crowd.

Ivanka Trump was reportedly reduced to tears by her father after he refused to issue a full apology for his comments about groping women. But according to the New York Times [one of the “fake news” outlets – so Papa will not accept it!], Ivanka repeatedly attempted to convince him to offer a full apology for the comment, but he had only agreed to say sorry for any offence he caused.

Another court loss for Trump: A US federal court has declined to rehear a case in which telecommunications companies seek to overturn net neutrality rules established during the Obama administration by the FCC.

If Trump were an officer in the Air Force, with any connection to nuclear weapons, he would need to pass the Personnel Reliability Program, which includes thirty-seven questions about financial history, emotional volatility, and physical health. (Question No. 28: Do you often lose your temper?) “There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump would never pass muster,” said a researcher.

Ivanka Trump, at a Berlin conference on women called W20 Summit, drew scattered groans and hisses for describing Trump as “a tremendous champion of supporting families.” “Some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empoweree for women,” said the moderator of the summit. Ivanka responded saying the media continues to bring that up. Then she said “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.” Of course, if you are a daughter of a billionaire, there are few barriers.

 

FBI cracks terrorist’s cell without Apple’s help

As you may have read, the FBI used a security company called Cellebrite [if the story is true] to break into the iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorist. So an anticipated showdown between Apple and the FBI have been put on hold.

If you recall, it had FBI claiming that they needed to get into the iPhone to see if there was any evidence [but they don’t know if there was any] and Apple claiming a privacy issue – not for the dead terrorist but in future battles like this.

Because of these actions, Magistrate Sheri Pym won’t be ruling on whether a centuries-old law, known as the All Writs Act, provided legal authority for compelling Apple’s assistance.

Some in the tech industry believe at one point the FBI will go after a smaller company that doesn’t have the legal army and money that Apple has, get a favorable ruling and then go after Apple or others.

If the case would of moved forward, Apple would have to rewrite its iPhone software that would make all iPhones less secure and open the door to more demands from government authorities, both in the United States and other countries [especially some that don’t have the proper laws and “checks” that the US has].

Now there is talk that Apple, Google, Microsoft and others will make it even more difficult to hack into a smart phone the way Cellebrite did.

One does wonder regarding some smartphone data as most data is either synced with the cloud or also stored on the manufacturer’s or carrier’s servers [who and when called, search information, etc.].

The US [and other countries] also need to modernize some of the laws such as the All Writs Act which was out long before any modern technology was available.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have appealed a court ruling that said Apple doesn’t have to help them extract data from another iPhone in a New York drug case. In at least a dozen pending cases, the government has cited the same All Writs Act as legal authority to compel Apple’s co-operation.

A slippery slope between Apple and the FBI

The US government are at odds with Apple. The FBI got a judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Central California to order Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook’s co-workers at a holiday gathering in December 2015.

The judge ordered Apple to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.

But Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Apple’s refusal to comply citing to protect the privacy of its users – even terrorists. [You can’t cherry pick them.] First there will be this issue, then there will be others. When will it stop.

The FBI says that by withholding access to the phone’s information, it is hampering the continuing investigation. Police and prosecutors want the companies to build what would be considered a master key that can be used to get around the encryption.

The Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone, owned by Mr. Farook’s former employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.

Blackberry was in the same dilemma but with foreign countries such as Pakistan where Pakistan wanted a master key to unencrypt any conversation or mail between two parties.

One needs to wonder whether Pakistan would go after solely what they would describe as terrorists or maybe even after those the government consider subversive such as protesters.

The same could apply in this Apple case – but hopefully at least the US government can be a bit more open.

In 2014, Apple and Google announced that they had re-engineered their software that encrypts the devices used by their operating systems, and therefore could no longer unlock their own products as a result.

[I had this issue with my Android phone about a month ago. Don’t ask me why, but my boot encryption password didn’t working after 2+ years. I had to force a device wipe.]

Not surprising, Republican Presidential nominee is in favor of the master key concept. [Wonder how he would like it if the FBI investigated him and asked for his phone.]

Known treason tech guy, Edward Snowden, has asked why Apple is policing something the FBI should be doing.

This is going down a slippery slope. If Apple is forced to hand the FBI the keys to the castle, when will it stop? Clearly Mr. Farook was a terrorist, but can a warrant be issued to look at the phone of a politician? A celebrity? The person across the street?

If Apple [and Google] are forced to put something in future operating systems, will consumers ignore upgrading to the operating systems that the government can access?