Trump abandons climate control accord – few surprised

Donald Trump withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, confirming a move certain to anger allies that spent years negotiating the landmark agreement to reduce carbon emissions. But there may be “caveats in the language” that Trump uses to announce the withdrawal, leaving open the possibility that the decision isn’t still final. Typical of him. You are either out or in.

Prior to his decision this week, he said “I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days.” Why wait a few days? US would join his Russian buddy, Vladimir Poutine, as the only industrialized economies in rejecting action to combat climate change. Trump has previously called global warming a “hoax”.

From Trump’s comments during his speech to leave the accord:

  • When Trump said that America would lose jobs, 374,000 related solar jobs are in the US now compared to 164,000 coal jobs [and shrinking].
  • When Trump said it would cost the government too much, the US gave $3 billion to green climate fund or 1/100 of 0.001% of budget in 2017.
  • When Trump whined that China can increase emissions for 13 years, coal consumption in China is declining and new coal plants on hold.
  • When Trump complained that a decrease of 2/10 of 1 degree C by 2100 is nothing, climate experts says even that small change can affect the world.

Many in corporate America have come down against the Trump administration including oil giants ExxonMobil and BP. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger even quit a presidential advisory committee in protest. In addition, you had the heads of Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook all against the decision. Very few CEOs were for the decision.

Trump even went against most advisors and even his family – especially Ivanka Trump – when he wanted out of the deal.

Jared Kushner, a trusted aide to President Donald Trump and husband to Ivanka Trump, chatted with Russia’s ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in December about the proposed channel which was meant to discuss military operations in Syria and other matters.

Russian government officials discussed having potentially “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source. One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there has never been a case of election interference more aggressive than that involving Russia and the 2016 presidential election. When asked if he was 100% sure, Clapper responded with “Absolutely”.

Congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential campaign, according to Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation. Sessions has previously failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials. During his confirmation hearing on January 10, Sessions testified that he “did not have any communications with the Russians” during the campaign.

Comedian Kathy Griffin landed in hot water after she posted a video that showed her holding a likeness of Trump’s severed head. She has apologized but she lost a job at CNN, an engagement in New Mexico and a commercial endorsement. On his Twitter account [of course], Trump says, “My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” Knowing Trump’s “history” of comments and exaggerations, I’m wondering if Barron ever saw the video – or who in their right mind would allow him to see the video.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to suggest that Russian “patriotic hackers” may have meddled in the US election, but insisted that none of their potential activities were state-backed. It’s the first time the Russian leader has conceded that any election-related hacking attacks may have emanated from his country.

The Trump administration Thursday night asked the Supreme Court to allow the President’s travel ban that blocks entry from six Muslim-majority countries to go into effect. This is the administration’s third try in getting the ban to be enforced.

Trump has been handing out his cellphone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the U.S. commander in chief’s communications. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer so far.

Another election promise by Trump went out the window. His promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been put on hold by signing a waiver. Signing the waiver this week forestalls any move for another six months. Every US president has signed such a waiver twice a year after a law was passed in 1995 mandating the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem.

“We made extraordinary gains” said Trump after his trip concluded. Funny. Except for those deals at the beginning of his trip in Saudi Arabia, there wasn’t anything really announced.

In the weeks before Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip, the Saudi government hired three US lobbying firms to do its bidding in Washington, including an obscure group made up of former Trump advisers that will receive $5.4 million for one year’s work, federal records show. The Saudis have now added six U.S. lobbying firms since Trump’s election. [Don’t be too surprised if Congress kills a law that lets relatives of the 9/11 victims sue the Saudi government.]

Michael Dubke, Trump’s communications director, comes as aides say Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and revelations of possible ties between his campaign and Moscow. Dubke joined the White House team in February after campaign aide Jason Miller — Trump’s original choice for communications director — withdrew from the White House team. Kellyanne The Witch Conway said that Dubke resigned before Trump left for his international trip earlier this month. [The Witch has been quite quiet of late.]

Trump tweeted “Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.” More like they are laughing at him because his team could easily be manipulated.

Seems Trump continue to make no friends with US allies claiming “we have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military”. Germany is third highest at $65 billion, barely ahead of Mexico and behind Japan [$69 billion] and way behind China [$347 billion]. China accounts for about 70% of the US trade deficit.

There goes another 300 jobs – this time at a Michigan plant owned by GM. Workers such as these though more jobs would be created under Trump. So they voted for him. Instead they are losing their jobs. Since last November, GM has eliminated a total of about 5,000 jobs.

The arrest and disappearance of three labour activists investigating a Chinese company that produces Ivanka Trump-branded shoes in China prompted a call for her brand to cease working with the supplier. The men were working with a U.S. non-profit to publish a report next month alleging low pay, excessive overtime and possible misuse of student labour. The Chinese company claims less than 0.1% of shoes made at the company is for the Ivanka Trump-brand merchandise.

While most sent out tweets like Ivanka Trump said [“Today we honor the men & women in our armed forces who have lost their lives to protect our freedom.”] But someone in charge of her Twitter brand account tweeted “Make champagne popsicles this #MemorialDay” followed by a link to her brand web site. Not surprising, some were not amused.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington hosted a conference for a business group that aims to improve relations between the US and Turkey. But of course it raises ethics concerns.

In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said at a forum on real estate markets that Trump’s businesses “see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Earlier this year, journalist James Dodson claimed that in 2014, Eric Trump told him that that the golf business did not need American investment because “we have all the funding we need out of Russia.” Eric Trump has vigorously denied he made the remark.

Seen and heard on a recent Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode: “Supporting that crazy thug down in DC.” Who can that be?

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.