A big week of failures, exaggerations and blunders

When Donald Trump tweeted recently “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”, it still didn’t go against Twitter’s posting rules which state users “may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.” Twitter is citing “newsworthiness” and the public interest as reasons why it didn’t remove Trump’s tweets.

[We always knew that one of Trump’s tweets would land him in hot water – not by Twitter but how someone would interpret his tweets.]

Under the UN Charter, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said, North Korea has the right to self-defense and “every right” to take countermeasures, “including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.” Funny how North Korea will use the UN Charter to their advantage whenever it suits them but ignore the UN otherwise.

In July 2016, Pyongyang said US sanctions imposed on Kim were “a declaration of war” against North Korea and it made a similar statement after a new round of UN sanctions in December. While the December sanctions were from the UN, North Korea has blamed the US and declared war on them.

Meanwhile, the North Korean regime officials have been quietly attempting to set up meetings with Republican analysts in an apparent attempt to better understand the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration. Good luck in understanding him.

Trump’s son-in-law and official White House adviser, Jared Kushner, used a private email server – set up after the election – to conduct White House business. Kushner used the private account in tandem with his official White House email account to correspond with current and former senior White House officials, outside advisers and others, about subjects ranging from media coverage to event planning.

His lawyer stated that “Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.”

Wasn’t this what happened to Hillary Clinton? He didn’t notice they contained confidential information or contacted the sender about it? Expect Trump to have a double standard saying Kushner is innocent.

While Trump was upset with even owners who joined in the protest, when friend, supporter and New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft made some comments about Trump’s comments, Trump said “he’s a good friend of mine and I want him to do what he wants to do.” So Kraft gets a “pass” on Trump’s barrage of nasty comments.

Trump supports called this whole episode a win for Trump. Unsure how he won. In fact he has divided the country even more.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on ABC’s “This Week” that players have “the right to have the First Amendment off the field.” But what about on the field – especially if the ownership agree or have no opinion?

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says it is about police brutality – so they should protest at the police that protect them on the field. Seriously?

Trump tweeted about the athletes criticism 22 times over the weekend, more than all the other major items [health care, North Korea, etc.] combined. Nice priorities.

After the weekend, Trump tweeted “The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard.” Yes, his hearing is a perfect way to judge things just like his eyesight during his inauguration.” But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!” Is he taking credit for this? “Progress”?

“It’s really caught on. It’s really caught on,” Trump said of his NFL comments to attendees at the dinner with conservative group leaders, according to someone who attended. “I said what millions of Americans were thinking.”

The First Amendment so often cited as a blanket justification for “free speech” doesn’t protect the employment of football players or race car drivers when they speak their minds. But NFL’s rulebook states it does not say players must stand during the national anthem.

Most sports do have clauses like in the NBA where “loyalty to the Club, and to conduct himself on and off the field with appropriate recognition of the fact that the success of professional football depends largely on public respect for and approval of those associated with the game.” But if the team isn’t against the idea…..

Following Trump’s tweets last week that players should be fired for going down on one knee during the national anthem and calling them “sons of bitches”, he tweeted “I never said anything about race.” While it is technically true, but many players were protesting because of how minorities in the US have been pushed around or abused.

Trump claims he spoke with NFL’s Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He was one of the owners who kneeled before his team played this past weekend. [I would guess he is a friend of Jones.] I guess Trump wants them to stand next week. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did – not because Trump wants them to but because it was a one weekend protest.

In another interview, Trump said “Because you look at the ratings [for the NFL], the ratings are going way down … the stadiums, there are a lot of empty seats, I couldn’t even believe it.” If only he had proof to back it up. At least in the early Sunday afternoon games, no one knew that the players [and management] would be protesting. Not those who went to the game or watched on TV.

49% of Americans disapprove of the NFL protests in a poll that came out. So, like everything else, America is divided.

Not a good piece of news: Twitter testing to increase to 280 characters!

Trump is calling Facebook “anti-Trump.” Trump’s comments came days after Facebook said it will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators and make political advertising on its platform more transparent related to the 2016 election. Trump tweeted: “Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @wapo were anti-Trump. Collusion?” Errr. They were requested by at least one of the ongoing investigations?

Trump tweeted “Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months-and economy roaring.” Yup. He accomplished nothing in 9 months. Who is he kidding?

Trump’s most recent tweets urging Alabamians to vote for Sen. Luther Strange mysteriously disappeared from his verified Twitter account after the candidate was projected to lose the Republican primary runoff for a Senate seat. “Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job – vote today for ‘Big Luther'” was one of them. Obviously he didn’t “shoot” up the polls! Took him almost 2 hours to congratulate the winner, Roy Moore, after Strange conceded.

Trump is infuriated at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment after they pushed trump to back Luther Strange. Strange lost by 9.2%.

Trump often deletes tweets from his personal account over spelling mistakes and then quickly tweets corrected versions. Deletion of tweets have raised questions about how presidents’ social media should be handled and preserved. The question has also been raised whether Trump is violating the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which requires all the president’s records be preserved for eventual release to the public on a delayed basis long after the commander in chief leaves office.

So Trump just loves to poke at his [so-called] enemies. Case in point. He tweeted about the problems facing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria by including “massive debt” and “with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with” instead of comfort or compassion for the humanitarians crisis. Does that mean Puerto Ricans won’t be given any clean water to drink until Wall Street gets its cut? He also said “Texas & Florida are doing great.” But still flooded, lacking power, heavily damaged. Has he seen the Florida Keys?

As they are not a state, Puerto Rico can’t vote for the president in an election and their congressman has limited power. So he’s not going to help them as fast as Texas or Florida – both large states with many Republican voters. Trump has tweeted how well the island is doing after the hurricane when in fact little has been done. Of note, some of his cabinet have big stakes in Wall Street.

Only 54% of Americans believe Puerto Ricans are American citizens according to a poll.

In addition, there is an obscure act called the Jones Act which is century-old law that requires all goods ferried between U.S. ports to be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans. When it was established in 1920, was meant to promote shipping by U.S.-owned and operated vessels. But it’s also had the unintended consequence of making it twice as expensive to ship things from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other foreign port in the world, according to Republican Senator John McCain’s office.

Trump so far has not waived the rule, but that he is “thinking about” it. He claims “We have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” The shippers have a monopoly, so they want the act kept. The kicker is that Trump waved the acted for Florida and Texas after their hurricanes.

Critics say the Jones Act costs American jobs by encouraging residents in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii to buy foreign-made goods that are shipped on foreign flagged vessels, rather than goods made in America. Cars, for example, cost about 40% more in Puerto Rico than on U.S. mainland, partly because of the law.

Even over a week after since Puerto Rico was hit with the hurricane, Trump still has to somehow throw in a point that the territory is in debt. Why? Does it make a difference now?

Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida traveled to Puerto Rico, something Trump still hasn’t done, and said that aid was not flowing out from the airport and port because of communication problems and confusion.

Yes. Strike 4. A four time failure Trump is now in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump cited an unnamed senator being in the hospital as part of the reason why Republicans are unable to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump assailed two top Republican senators in a local Alabama radio interview when he took aim at Sen. John McCain for opposing the latest effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by saying “… what McCain has done is a tremendous slap in the face to the Republican Party”. He also blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the “ridiculous filibuster rule” that he believes prevents his administration from having legislative accomplishments.

“That’s [60 votes in the filibuster rule] the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. So that means we need eight Democrats, and the Republicans can end it. And Mitch wants to keep it, which is ridiculous by the way,” Trump said. So Trump still wants to change rules so everything can go his way.

In the latest proof that Trump doesn’t came for Puerto Rico much, he still hasn’t gone there to see the problems there but was in Florida and Texas within a week and then again later.

Trump said he may soon sign an executive order on health care that would affect millions of people. Trump now seems to be backing health insurance reforms pushed by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul, who opposed the Senate repeal bill, wants insurers to be allowed to sell policies across state lines and for people to be able to form groups to buy coverage. Opponents say that it would split the market so that healthier folks would flock to the skinnier plans, while the sick would stay in the more comprehensive plans, pushing up their rates even more.

As if Trump doesn’t have enough on his plate, he tweeted “Iran just test fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” But US intelligence radars and sensors “picked up no indication” of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test. Seems Iran was playing games, releasing footage of a previous test.

The Trump administration has unveiled new travel restrictions on certain foreigners from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as a replacement to a central portion of its controversial travel ban signed earlier this year.

Some are new to the list of affected countries. The new restrictions on travel vary by country and include a phased-in approach. Most of them are there for show as few Americans would visit those countries [maybe except for humanitarian reasons]. For example, of the under 100 from North Korea who come to the US, they are almost all diplomats serving at the UN. Would you really want to take a vacation in Syria?

Trump told a rally audience in Alabama that the media won’t show his crowd as the crowd was being broadcast. And yet CNN and other news outlets did show the crowd.

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A mid-week Trump update

[Well for me it’s mid-week as I usually post updates on Friday.]

Not knowing constitutional law [or for that matter ethics] Donald trump thinks he has the right to pardon himself if it comes to it. This would be like a judge pardoning himself before shooting someone.

Of course, the new White House Communication Director, Anthony Scaramucci, said that he just said the pardon part in a tweet but it doesn’t mean he’s thinking of it. Scaramucci even denies Trump has talked about it with advisors. Interesting that a constitutional expert said it is possible that Trump can pardon himself if it comes to it. Politically, it may not be advisable.

Scaramucci also said that he still believes that Russia did not interfere with the US elections even though his own intelligence leaders said he did. Hiding behind the fact that he doesn’t have a security clearance yet [fill out that section properly on meeting foreigners!], he said that once he does, he will analyze the documents and advise Trump. Is that the job of Trump’s advisors?

Meanwhile, Scaramucci was busy taking down tweets he said in the past – some within the past couple of years – including praising Hillary Clinton and criticizing Trump. Ooops.

Scaramucci, in a January 2016 op-ed for FoxBusiness.com, wrote a scathing column in early 2016 aimed at then-GOP presidential candidate Trump, warning that the abandonment of “common decency out of primeval fear” echoed some of the worst examples of US history.

“If a populist prevails in the primary, as appears increasingly likely, the party faces either devastating defeat in the general election or a new, unrecognizable identity. In either scenario, a large swath of the GOP electorate will be forced to eat crow and reevaluate its affiliation. Call it, if you will, a moral debt restructuring, one caused by the reckless behavior of a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy.” And they are friends?

So if Trump considers media outlets like the New York Times as “fake news” creators, why did he have an interview with them? Hypocrite.

Trump also complained in a Twitter-storm about Attorney General Jeff sessions having discussed the campaign with the Russian ambassador last year [as mentioned previously, Sessions denied]. Not that there was a discussion but there was a “leak”. What leak? The ambassador told his superiors and American intelligence intercepted the information. Is it a leak if there isn’t anything considered confidential? Trump also tweeted about a leak of Comey’s information but, again, nothing confidential. Did he lie to congress?

The House and Senate reached a deal to slap Russia with fresh sanctions and give Congress new veto power to block any easing of those sanctions – an agreement that could send a new bill to Trump’s desk before the end of the month. It would include new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Democrats and some Republicans have expressed concerns that Trump is considering giving Russia back two compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration in December. Congressional aides say they expect Trump will sign the bill because it will likely pass both chambers with strong, veto-proof majorities.

Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump will work with congress regarding further sanctions against Russia and limit Trump in killing any sanctions. Yet, Scaramucci said Trump wouldn’t do that.

“After 1 year of investigation with Zero evidence being found, Chuck Schumer just stated that “Democrats should blame ourselves, not Russia,” the President tweeted, later adding, “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” First, why does Sessions stay instead of this bullying? Some think trump want sessions to quit. Look better than fired. Second, does he know of no evidence. And yet, Trump will probably continue think the Democrats will be blaming Russia for Clinton’s loss. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with Schumer.

Trump, once again, mislead the US people. In December 2016, helped convince Carrier not to move its Indianapolis furnace plant to Mexico, but now the company is eliminating hundreds of jobs. Trump originally saved 1100 of 1400 jobs and carrier got $7 million in incentives from the state. But what trump failed to say is that starting this week 600 will lose their jobs as part of the agreement. Carrier also promised in upgrading the facility but that may go to automation which means more job cuts.

A week ago Donald Trump Jr said he would be willing to testify in public. Now both Trump Jr and Paul Manafort have an agreement where they won’t testify in public, would give documents related to their infamous meeting in June 2016. At this point they may not be even testifying under oath.

A report cited seven unnamed sources saying Jared Kushner spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the phone at least twice between April and November 2016. Kushner’s lawyers denied the story when it came out in May.

The Somalia-based al-Shabab is mocking U.S. President Donald Trump in a new video that said U.S. voters elected “arguably the most stupid president a country could ever have” and says Trump is “making the United States the greatest joke on earth and is now propelling it further to its eventual defeat and destruction.”

Recently, Trump promoted products made in the US. Well you probably can’t count on much – if anything – from his or Ivanka Trumps clothing or accessories line. Most or all of their products are made in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh or elsewhere. He should stop complaining on import and export issues with Canada and Mexico and concentrate on his family’s use of low wage labor in these countries. Ivanka trump has even been pushing for better lives for women. While they are getting jobs, she can start by giving them better wages and working conditions.

Meanwhile Trump opened the doors in another mess: He is now getting around to try and “fix” NAFTA. He is required by US law to announce the sections he wants to fix. Already there will be rumblings as he wants [for example] Canada to remove protectionism for dairy and steel and yet he is going around with his buy American products this week. The removal of the independent arbitration panel will also be a sticky point. Trump wants that removed because every time Canada complained about some US protectionism, Canada won.

A federal judge in DC declined to block Trump’s voter integrity commission from collecting data on voters from 50 states in a ruling, handing a win to an administration inundated by lawsuits over the commission’s request. The commission’s vice chairman, Kris Kobach, sent a letter to all 50 states requesting a slew of voter roll data in late June.

Kobach said he was only asking for what was publicly available under the laws of each state, but the request nevertheless triggered rapid-fire litigation in federal courts, including a suit by a privacy rights group in which claimed the commission had failed to comply with federal law and the request violated constitutionally-protected privacy rights.

Former US attorney general Eric Holder assailed Trump’s voting commission and unsubstantiated claim that voter fraud is widespread, calling the commission “another frightening attempt to suppress the votes of certain Americans.” “The creation of this new federal commission on election integrity by this administration is another frightening attempt to suppress the votes of certain Americans. Make no mistake, this commission, led by a fact-challenged zealot [Kris Kobach], will come up with bogus reasons why further restrictions should be placed on the right to vote.”

A while back the New York Post [owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch] had a blunt assessment by the Post’s editorial board last month about Trump’s Twitter habits at the end of June said, simply, “Stop. Just stop.” That’s it. A 3 word editorial. The New York Post recently labeled Donald Trump Jr. an “idiot” and “criminally stupid.”

Wall Street Journal, also owned by Murdoch, ran an eye-popping editorial in its opinion pages called “The Trumps and the Truth”, which the editorial scolded the president’s family for withholding information about Russia-related meetings and discussions. It said the political realities of Washington “will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe.” The editorial also said that “denouncing leaks as ‘fake news’ won’t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President’s base, as Mr. Trump’s latest 36% approval rating shows.”

One of Murdoch’s British papers, The Sun, published what it said was a “transcript of the chat” between Trump and British prime minister Theresa May. The leak was embarrassing for Trump: The headline was “Donald Trump begs Theresa May to fix a ‘warm welcome’ for his state visit — and says he won’t set a date for it until he knows he’s going to get ‘a better reception.'”

Fox News, Trump’s favorite media outlet, decided to go after Hillary Clinton recently, trying to deflect all the criticism that hit Trump. They went after her for scandals she has been involved in, why wasn’t she and Bill questioned by the media like Trump has been regarding Russian communication, money Bill received for speaking engagements, etc. A chunk of the stuff mentioned was innuendo or crybaby talk. “Old News” and maybe some “Fake News” thrown in.

In the latest wacky idea from Trump, he says that maybe the wall between the US and Mexico should be transparent. Why? Because Mexican drug smugglers are known to use catapults to send shipments over the wall and he doesn’t want any Americans to get injured by a 60 kg bag of cocaine. Hmmmm. Except for those in urban areas or those graffiti “artists” I can’t see too many people hanging around near the wall. “Hi Sue Ellen. Ready to go sun bathing near the wall?” Nope.

As part of a department-wide reorganization, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly will be merging the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues into the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Yes. They have synergy. Not. It’s like merging Windows administration with marketing.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and his golf course in Jupiter, Florida, have filed documents to bring in additional foreign workers under the H-2B visa program, which allows foreigners to fill temporary non-agriculture jobs in the United States that supposedly cannot be filled by US workers.

Buy American, hire American” is what Trump said recently. So why is he bringing in foreigners to work at his properties to do menial labor? As for buying American, think of what an iPhone would cost if it was made in America [it was “designed” in America but that isn’t buying].

Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 36% of Americans approve of Trump’s performance in the Oval Office, the lowest approval rating at the six-month mark of any president in 70 years. Trump claiming that 36% isn’t so bad but still complains that the poll is skewed. In fact, the ABC News/Washington Post poll was probably the closest to the actual results of the November election in terms of votes.

In a SSRA poll, 35% in the poll say they’d like President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress to give up their plans for repealing and replacing Obamacare, up from 23% who said the same in a March survey. A majority still favor some form of repeal (34% would prefer repeal with replacement at the same time, and 18% favor repeal regardless of whether the law is replaced at the same time).

In another ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump is barely handling the economy. 43% for, 41% against. 52% think Democrats don’t stand for anything other than being against Trump while 37% do think they stand for something. At the same time, 42% give them a favorable review, 48% don’t.

Support for Trump among Republicans matches the third-highest approval among a president’s own party during a new president’s first six months in more than 60 years, according to Gallup. But his base doesn’t like him using Twitter.

 

Trump Jr now in the spotlight

Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had a meeting with a Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya [who has ties with the Kremlin] just over a year ago. Now it has been learned that there were others. A Russian-American lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin said he also attended the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr as well as publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the meeting. Now were are told there are 2 others.

According to lobbying records, Akhmetshin is a registered lobbyist for Veselnitskaya’s organization, which has focused on lobbying Washington to overturn the Magnitsky sanctions. Akhmetshin denied that he was ever an intelligence agent but said he did serve two years in a Soviet military unit that handled counter-intelligence. Sounds like an intelligence agent to me. [The Magnitsky Act allows the US to withhold visas and freeze the assets of Russians thought to have violated human rights.]

Was Trump Jr. hiding this? How can he forget?

Seems one day earlier when this issue came out, a statement from Donald Trump Jr. made no mention of Hillary Clinton. In his initial depiction of the meeting last June, the president’s son said the discussion focused on a disbanded program that used to allow American adoptions of Russian children. [In retaliation for some financial sanctions, the Russians put a freeze of adoptions of Russian children by Americans.] He had a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign occurred at the behest of a Moscow-based singer with family ties to Trump’s businesses, according to a participant in the talks. Reports say that Trump Jr. was told ahead of time that the source of the information was the Russian government.

When the attorney has negative information about Clinton that is part of the Russian government’s efforts to help Trump in the campaign. The then-candidate’s son responds: “I love it.” This new setback raises new questions about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow during the election, a charge the president has denied for months.

Trump Jr. released an email chain that shows him discussing plans to hear damaging information on Clinton that were described as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” This was before the meeting at Trump Tower with Veselnitskaya. The emails with music publicist Rob Goldstone show that Trump Jr. was told that the Russian government had information about purported illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee.

But he decided that her information was most likely bogus and she just wanted to contact his father. This was just after Donald Trump clinched the nomination.

In a statement, Trump Jr.’s New York-based attorney Alan Futerfas called the Times report “much ado about nothing.”

Veselnitskaya stated in an interview with NBC that she had no information about Clinton. Veselnitskaya said she received a phone call from a man she didn’t know and was told to meet with Trump Jr.

Vladimir Poutine’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the Kremlin is unaware of a meeting between Trump’s senior staff and a Russian lawyer, that it doesn’t know who Kremlin-linked lawyer Veselnitskaya is. Veselnitskaya’s clients include state-owned businesses and the son of a senior government official whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting.

This all started because Kushner filed a revised version of a form needed to obtain a security clearance. His attorney has previously acknowledged that Kushner’s first security clearance submission was incomplete. Kushner supplemented the list of foreign contacts three times, adding more than 100 names, people close to him said. Kushner played down the significance of the meeting and omitted significant details, according to two people who were briefed on the exchange.

Over the last few days, members of the pro-Trump media have settled on their answer, characterizing the lawyer, Veselnitskaya, as a leftist with ties to the Obama administration. She part of a sinister Democratic plot to entrap the Trump campaign. Of course this was started more than a few days after this story broke. So the pro-Trump media is inventing ways to try and quash the story and came up with this one. Of course only the right will believe it and expect Trump to tweet it. Even Republican [and anti-Trump] John McCain is in on it. I guess anyone – Democrats or Republicans will be a target.

Senator Tim Kaine, said Donald Trump Jr. may have committed treason when he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer under the pretense of getting dirt on Clinton. “We are now beyond obstruction of justice. This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and not a fan of Trump, said any time you’re in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government the answer is “no.”

The chief ethics lawyer to George W. Bush, Richard Painter, also likened it to treason. Barack Obama’s White House counsel, Bob Bauer, said it’s illegal to assist foreign nationals seeking to influence a federal election, illegal to solicit their help, and illegal to co-ordinate with them.

Trump has questioned the quality of advice he has received from senior staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus. There has also been a difference of opinion within the West Wing as to how to handle the crisis, with some aides favoring more transparency than others. Some of the unhappiness centers on Trump’s legal team, which is led by New York attorney Marc Kasowitz.

Trump blasted the current Russia controversy as “the greatest witch hunt in political history” while defending his son as being “open, transparent and innocent” during his interview with Fox News [where else?]. Trump later lashed out against Hillary Clinton, charging her with unspecified wrongdoings. “Why aren’t the same standards placed on the Democrats. Look what Hillary Clinton may have gotten away with. Disgraceful!” he tweeted.

Trump said he had not been told last summer that his son was meeting with a Russian lawyer. “No, that I didn’t know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this,” he said.

Former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and several of her Democratic colleagues called for Jared Kushner’s security clearance to be revoked “immediately,” saying that he “clearly participated in collusion.” – let alone forgetting information on his SF-86 security clearance form. Except for the fact that he supposedly left the meeting early, Kushner also should of known better and not attend the meeting. It remains unclear whether Kushner was briefed before the sit-down with Veselnitskaya. Kushner had previously undisclosed calls to Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak and undisclosed meetings with Kislyak and the CEO of Vnesheconombank, a state-run Russian bank under US sanctions.

Here’s another thought: you are the son of the presidential nominee. If someone wants to meet you during an election campaign – whether foreign or not – you can almost assume that the meeting isn’t to discuss sports. Trump Jr. was a fool to personally attend such a meeting. Other campaigns would have used surrogates.

“It’s an honor to meet you” is what Trump said to Putin at the G20 meeting . Ya. Right.

Trump initially said there would be some type of cyber security deal with the Russians which surprised even people within the Republican Party. But later on backtracked said there was no deal – more like preliminary talks. This after most in the US believe the Russians tinkered with last year’s election.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted: “Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit'”.

On a 30 hour trip to France, Trump said the French President’s wife “You’re in such good shape. She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.” This in front of his own wife. Wonder what she was thinking. She’s 64. Media is calling it sexist.

Trump Jr. tweeted a video of a doctored clip of the 1986 military thriller “Top Gun”. In it, President Donald Trump’s face is superimposed over Tom Cruise’s character as he shoots down a Russian jet with a CNN logo on it. Trump is seen in the clip repeating his “you’re fired” catchphrase before launching a missile.

CNN said that it has confirmed the real and online identities of the individual behind the original CNN video shared by Trump. CNN also found a slew of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic posts from the same user. CNN says it spoke to the video creator by phone after the apology was posted. CNN left the door open to identifying the user in the future, should he go back to his “trolling” ways. Donald Trump Jr equates that to blackmail and somehow knows that the video creator is 15 years old. Maybe he or someone near his father hired the author?

In adding further sanctions against Russia and Iran, a bill has been stalled. The bill would require a congressional review if Trump attempts to ease or end penalties against Moscow. I would guess this would have to be related to Trump’s suspected ties with Russia. Officials from the Treasury and State departments said the provision would infringe on the president’s executive authority.

Trump tweeted that sanctions against Russia at the G20 meetings were not discussed at his meeting with Putin. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders contradicted Trump, telling reporters a day later that “sanctions specific to election-meddling were discussed” in the meeting.

Trump on Twitter claimed that the White House “is functioning perfectly” and claiming that “I have very little time for watching T.V.” Yes, at least 10 of the Trump’s tweets since Monday have been about TV shows or links to videos from the Fox News Channel.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University are suing Trump, saying some of his critics have been unconstitutionally blocked from following him on Twitter by asking a judge to stop Trump and his media team from blocking critics from following his personal account.

In another no-brainer, Trump tweeted that he is “working hard to get the Olympics for the United States.” He was pushing for Los Angeles bid. Unsure why. The IOC will choose one city for 2024 and another for 2028 – and there are just 2 cities left: Paris and Los Angeles. So what is there to “work hard” for?

Hackers breached the systems used by 14 different Trump Hotels properties between August 10, 2016 and March 9, 2017, managing to steal sensitive information like guests’ credit card details and other personal information. Trump Hotels informed customers that hackers managed to breach the systems of Sabre Hospitality Solutions (Sabre) and not its own systems, though it confirms that personal information has been exposed.

The Trump administration removed Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology equipment, amid concerns the cyber security firm’s products could be used by the Kremlin to gain entry into U.S. networks. The action was taken “after review and careful consideration.” Government agencies will still be able to use Kaspersky products purchased separate from the GSA contract process.

Last month the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a defense spending policy bill that would ban Kaspersky products from use in the military. The move came a day after the FBI interviewed several of the company’s U.S. employees at their private homes as part of a counterintelligence investigation into its operations.

A Bloomberg Businessweek article claims Kaspersky Lab can “quietly embed the software in everything from firewalls to sensitive telecommunications equipment-none of which carry the Kaspersky name,” going on to say that it does much work at the behest of the FSB, which is the successor to the KGB in the Russian spy world. Kaspersky vehemently denied the accusations. Bloomberg even claimed Kaspersky Lab’s chief legal officer was a KGB officer when he actually worked for the Border Service.

The Director of National Intelligence and the heads of the CIA, NSA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency unanimously told the Senate Intelligence Committee they wouldn’t trust, or use, Kaspersky software in their work.

The Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, at the center of a political firestorm over his encounters with associates of President Donald Trump, is leaving his post — but Russia says the move is not unexpected.
An author released a book called “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents From Wilson to Obama”. I’m wondering if the author can do a separate book just on Trump.

 

Trump vs Comey – round 1

Former FBI Director James Comey accused the Trump administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple” about him and the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing. Comey declared that the administration “defamed him and more importantly the FBI” by claiming the bureau was in disorder under his leadership.

Trump demanded his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly Trump was not the target of the FBI probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.” Trump, in a strange private encounter near the grandfather clock in the Oval Office, pushed Comey to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He did this after asking everyone else to leave the Oval Office.

“The Russians interfered,” Comey stated firmly. “That happened. It’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

Comey was also asked if he believed he was fired because of the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election as well as Russia’s ties with Trump’s campaign. “Yes,” Comey said. “Because I’ve seen the president say so.”

The White House had said that Comey was fired for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, while Trump said in an interview that Comey was fired in relation to the Russian hacking probe. Both are odd. If you believe the White house, why did he stay around when Trump took over. As for Trump’s reason, you could say Trump either wasn’t happy with the direction or was not going his way.

Comey said that Trump told him: “I hope you could see your way to letting [national security adviser Michael] Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey testified Thursday that he took that as “direction” from the president, even though Trump did not explicitly order him to drop the investigation into Flynn.

The RNC and other Trump allies worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing, trying to undermine Comey’s credibility by issuing press releases and even ads pointing to a past instance where the FBI had had to clean up the director’s testimony to Congress.

Trump’s defenders argued that it supported Trump’s claims that the former FBI chief had told him three times that he was not personally being investigated in the Russia probe – according to their interpretations. Trump also continues to deny the allegations. Fine, but it sounds like Trump may have meddled in the investigation.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted if something was wrong, why didn’t he stop accepting contacts with his father. The obvious answer is that Trump is his boss and you don’t ignore him.

A pair of Democrats in Congress are drafting up articles of impeachment against Trump, saying that his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey constitutes an obstruction of justice.

Comey said he had never felt the need to document his conversations with former presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush [Comey served as deputy U.S. attorney general during the Bush administration].

Trump had contacted Comey 9 times within 4 months compared to 2 times when Barrack Obama was president.

Various bars, at least around Washington, were having hosting “Comey Viewing Parties”.

House and Senate investigators fired off a series of requests after Comey’s testimony, seeking memos of his private discussions with Trump and any records the White House kept of their discussion including audio recordings.

Meanwhile, Trump said he was willing to testify under oath about his conversations with Comey.

After the London attacks, Trump tweeted “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'” But as usually he took things out of context. Mayor Sadiq Khan was actually informing Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased police presence in the city following the attack.

Trump then tweeted the day after that that Khan had offered a “pathetic excuse” and “had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement.” What about thinking? Such a diplomat.

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne The Witch Conway condemned what she called the media’s “obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.” So what has he done again since he took office besides tweet?

Trump [or someone handling his Twitter account] started to block Twitter accounts that are unfriendly to Trump. Press Secretary Sean Garlic Spicer said Trump’s tweets from his personal account are considered official White House statements. Some legal experts say, raises First Amendment concerns about what Trump is doing. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University says it’ll consider a lawsuit if Trump doesn’t unblock Twitter users. If Trump’s tweets are considered official White House statements then is a designated public forum. Some of the tweeters claim they were block for something as simple of a joke about covfefe.

According to White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka, on Trump’s tweets he says “It’s not policy. It’s social media.” So whatever Trump tweets are not official? Or official depending on the tweet.

Trump finally came around to blast Qatar for supporting terrorism. Trump said Arab leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia last month had urged him to confront Qatar over its behavior. If so, why did it take him close to a week to come out and say something. Did Arab leaders really ask him? He said Qatar had “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” Wonder how things will continue as Qatar hosts some 10,000 U.S. troops and a major U.S. air base.

Trump still pushing for his “travel ban” after being blocked twice. This time he will try the Supreme Court. He then tweets “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” He has also hinted that UK wouldn’t of had the recent attacks if they had “extreme vetting” [does anyone know what that really entails?] but how many of them were born in the UK?

Even The Witch‘s husband, George Conway, who declined a justice job [claiming family reasons], tweeted out against Trump’s ban.

Seems like lack of diplomacy doesn’t fall far from the tree. After saying critics of his father are “not even people” in an interview on Fox, Eric Trump calls DNC chairman Tom Perez “a total wackjob.” Trump says Democrats “have no message of their own” and are “imploding”. Yup, a chip off the old block when it comes to exaggerations.

Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord could hit his family hard in the future. The Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the soaring apartment towers bearing his name on Miami-area beaches and his Doral golf course are all threatened by rising seas, according to projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the South Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. The same goes for other low-lying South Florida properties such as his beloved National Doral Miami golf course. Other properties near water include The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, his golf course in Ireland, Vancouver, Panama City, Uruguay and India.

As a photo op, Trump met two families while in Cincinnati who were hit with rising health care costs. He called them “ObamaCare victims” in a tweet. They may not have any coverage with TrumpCare as experts estimate that over 20 million Americans will be off the government plan. As well, Trump spoke in Cincinnati at a marina, with a barge carrying West Virginia coal behind him.

In a meeting, Trump “joked” that Jared Kushner, who is married to his daughter Ivanka and also serves as a White House strategist, has “become much more famous than me,” adding: “I’m a little bit upset about that.” Turn the calendar back about a few months ago. He said “He’s become more famous than me” about FBI director James Comey. A month later, Comey was fired.

Scratching you head time: If true Jared Kushner suggested that it would be better if to contact the Russian government, it would be better to do it from the Russian embassy. If so, the US has no proof or documentation [or recording] of what was said. This goes against US laws which require government communication needs to be recorded.

Like many, President Barrack Obama would not use Trump’s name at a speech in Montreal this week. For example, he said “Obviously I’m disappointed with the current American administration’s decision to pull out of Paris,” when asked about the Trump’s administration to leave the accord. He continued to elude Trump’s name when he said “In an age of instant information, where TV and Twitter can feed us a steady stream of bad news — and sometimes fake news….”

Remember how Trump was boasting following his Saudi Arabia part of his trip that he has deals worth $110 billion signed? Not really. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but no contracts signed. With the drop in oil prices, Saudi Arabia are even cutting back on military purchases.

The family and close friends have repeatedly ask Trump to dial back or tone down his tweeting as it is costing him [what’s left of his] respectability.

In another sign that the economy doesn’t like the administration, Ford is offering 15,000 employees money to leave the company. If not, they’ll probably lay off many.

On March 11, 45% of Americans approved of the job Donald Trump was doing in Gallup’s daily tracking poll. The latest Gallup track on June 3 put Trump’s job approval at a dismal 36% — a single percentage point away from the lowest ebb of his time in the White House. (On March 28, Trump’s job approval was at 35%.) A Quinnipiac University poll released in late May put Trump’s job approval at 37%. A Monmouth poll conducted in mid-May put Trump’s job approval at 39%. In comparison, President Obama was at 61% in the Gallup tracking poll in early June 2009. George W. Bush was at 55% in Gallup at this time in 2001.

Since 1946, according to Gallup, when a president’s job approval rating is above 50%, the average number of seats his party loses in a midterm election is 14. When a president’s job approval rating is below 50%? Try an average 36-seat loss.

 

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.

 

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.]