How can Trump be happy with the outcome?

While some of the races haven’t been completely decided, the Democrats retook control of the Senate while the Republicans grabbed probably at least 2 extra seats in the Senate to ease some of the close voting that occurred in the first half of Donald Trump’s term.

The additional Senate seats was not surprising since quite a few contested seats were generally Republican to begin with but flipped to Democrats 6 years ago as President Obama won his second term and the areas were generally easily won by Trump in 2016.

However, the Democrats made big but not surprising gains in the House with only 2 seats [at this time] flipped to the Republicans but dozens switched to the Democrats. Most of those were grabbed in the suburbs.

At the traditional news conference the day after the mid-term elections, Trump pointed to “major” victories in races where he campaigned, particularly in Florida, Indiana, Missouri and others. He will likely downplay — or ignore — disappointments, particularly losses in governor’s races.

“Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night…” Unsure how he can call it a victory when he lost the House badly. In addition unsure who would congratulate him other than within the party. The only bright spot is that he has some slight security in the Senate but still not 60 seats needed to properly govern. He will also be forced to work with the Democrats to get most things done. He can kiss the Trump Wall goodbye.

“Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” Trump tweeted before midnight. Yes, you lost the House and six states have new Democrat governors [almost all in usually Republican mid-west states] and no new Republican governors.

“Think of how his position with Republicans improves-all the candidates who won tonight….” Trump said [“his” being himself]. It sounds like the House and Gubernatorial votes didn’t exist according to him.

Not surprising Trump went on the attack by saying “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!” Except, the House is where most investigations do start. You think he has anything? Leaks?

He also said “Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!” What a nice guy. Claiming that those Republicans who lost, lost because they didn’t want Trump’s backing. Rep. Mia Love and Barbara Comstock are two he singled out.

“By expanding our Senate majority, the voters have also clearly rebuked the Senate Democrats for their handling of the [Brett] Kavanaugh hearings….” That doesn’t explain why he lost so many seats in the House. Most who vote for one party in the House will vote for the same party in the Senate. More like the Senate seats he picked up were generally “red’ states.

“This election marks the largest Senate gains for a President’s party in the first midterm election since at least President Kennedy’s in 1962.” Yes but these Senate gains all occurred in states Trump won in 2016.

He said Republicans faced “the most House Republican retirements in 88 years”. Which proves what? The GOP couldn’t find decent replacements? Maybe retirements are for different reasons such as getting away from the party’s leader?

“Last night the Republican party defied history to expand our Republican majority,” he said, adding that the Republican Party “(beat) expectations in the House.” Was he expecting to lose even more in the House?

Trump’s three most recent predecessors all lost House majorities in the course of their tenures. In post-election news conferences, all three took some form of responsibility. President George W. Bush called a 2006 rout a “thumping.” President Barack Obama deemed 2010 losses a “shellacking.”

The early exit polling suggests that two-thirds of voters said that their vote was about Trump, with more saying they came to vote to show opposition rather than support for Trump; nearly 4 in 10 voters said that their vote was meant as a sign of opposition to Trump.

Midterm elections are almost always referendums on the president and his party. And they are almost always negative referendums. It’s why the president’s party has not lost House seats in only three midterms since the Civil War.

Family members and friends, including ex-campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, and informal advisers like Blackstone chief Stephen Schwarzman, joined Trump in the evening for a viewing party, snacking on pizza and tiny hot dogs as they watched results come in on television.

Most likely when special counsel Robert when Mueller submits his final report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the House Judiciary Committee will be able to request it from the Department of Justice, and make it public if it deems that it is warranted. All of these actions will make it much harder for the White House to block or bury evidence of any alleged collusion or obstruction of justice, whether or not Mueller or Rosenstein are fired.

As an added “bonus” to the day, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions although Sessions handed in his resignation letter. In any case, Sessions is, not surprisingly, out. Most knew it would come sometime after the mid-term elections.

Matthew Whitaker, former Chief of Staff to Sessions, will take over as acting attorney general and is expected to take charge of the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Whitaker has been openly critical of Mueller and the investigation.

The Democrats immediately called on him to recuse himself as “given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

 

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Trump just loves to change his tune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump gets hit on two sides

[He was so busy with these two issues, he didn’t have time for anything else!]

In a new book by Pulitzer prize winner, Bob Woodward, multiple current and former Donald Trump administration officials called Trump “unhinged”, “liar”, a “fifth grade” intellect and an aggrieved and abusive “Shakespearean king” raging in the Oval Office. Even worse, unlike most other books, Woodward has them recorded saying so.

“The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!” Trump tweeted. But how does he answer what has been recorded? All doctored? Who discredited the book? Those accused of saying nasty things about him?

“It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems,” Trump said of Woodward, who has reported on multiple presidents and alongside Carl Bernstein broke news of the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Woodward sought through multiple White House officials and others close to Trump to secure an interview with him but Trump said he was never notified.

The denials have started. Chief of staff John Kelly denied calling saying “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying at a staff meeting in his office. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd refuted a claim that he had warned that his client’s lies would end up with him in an “orange jump suit” and calling Trump “a fucking liar,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said he had never used “contemptuous” words about Trump or  had the intellect of a fifth- or sixth-grader. Trump as calling Sessions, who is frequently a target of his rage, as a “dumb southerner” and “mentally retarded.” Former chief of staff Reince Priebus is “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”

“Rudy [Giuliani], you’re a baby,” Trump told the man who is now his attorney. “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once said after a meeting that “He’s a fucking moron.”

“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad,” White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said. And what about those still in office?

Woodward claims that Trump’s closest aides [Cohn and disgraced former staff secretary Rob Porter] have taken extraordinary measures in the White House to try to stop what they saw as his most dangerous impulses, going so far as to swipe and hide papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them. They and others acted with the acquiescence of Priebus. Is that even legal?

Kelly, former top economic adviser Gary Cohn and Mattis have been intervening regularly to avert national security disasters. Former [but brief] White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci says “Maybe it’s all true” and “So, what?”

Trump, showing his outrage over Woodward’s book, supposedly is ordering a real witch hunt in the West Wing and throughout his administration, asking loyal aides to help determine who cooperated with the book. And if that doesn’t push a witch hunt, the new item below will add to it. Wouldn’t be surprised if lie detectors are brought in.

As if things can’t get even more nuts, an unnamed senior Trump administration official assailed Trump’s “amorality” and reckless decision-making in a New York Times op-ed published and said he is part of a “resistance” working to thwart Trump’s worst impulses.

Trump’s “instability” is so profound, the author suggests, that there were “early whispers within the cabinet” about invoking the 25th Amendment, a constitutional mechanism to remove him from office. It’s an idea that was shelved for fear of creating a national crisis.

In the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and a simple majority of cabinet members agree then a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate. The vice-president would be temporarily invested with all the powers of the presidency. But if Trump objected, Congress would need to debate and ratify his removal by a two-thirds majority within 21 days.

[In my opinion, obviously not as an expert in this stuff, it is the duty of the vice-president and cabinet members to use the amendment if there is enough evidence that the president isn’t fully capable of doing his job. We only learned after that President Ronald Reagan wasn’t all there in his second term. So in a sense, someone (or people) were running the country and weren’t authorized to do so.]

“The dilemma — which (Trump) does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the Times piece reads. “I would know. I am one of them.”

Not surprisingly, Trump dismissed the op-ed as “really a disgrace” and “gutless editorial” assailing the author and The Times for publishing the anonymous opinion piece. Like most of his tweets he then switch to mention his so-called accomplishments, claiming that “nobody has done what this administration has done in terms of getting things passed and getting things through.” Like?

He later called it “treason” in a one word tweet. But he doesn’t know the constitution or the law. Can’t be charged for treason for what the individual did according to Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States,” “Simpleton” Sanders wrote. “He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.” So I guess she prefers to keep quiet for all the potentially illegal activities in the administration.

Trump said he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate and uncover the identity of the senior administration official who penned an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times. “Yeah, I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of this piece was because I really believe it’s national security,” Trump told reporters.

Trump argued the column presents a national security concern because this person still is in the government and shouldn’t be attending high-level meetings. Except we really don’t know how high the author’s access is.

Neither Trump nor the White House have identified a specific crime that has been committed although Trump has used the word “treason” which doesn’t fit the issue. Unless there is specifically something in their that involves classified information, the Department of Justice won’t have much to do. And of course than means Trump will go after Sessions again for not doing anything [unless Sessions stretches the investigation until after the elections – which he should.

[An unofficial rule, which James Comey broken in 2016, is that no investigations are announced or the results announced from 60 days before an election until after the election. We are within the 60 days as of this weekend.]

“I don’t mind criticism, I handle it and I fight back,” he said. “But here’s criticism where you can’t fight back. ‘Cause you have somebody doing it anonymously.” Isn’t he fighting back? He’s using the government’s security agencies to fight his battles – the same one he berates.

White House aides believe they have narrowed the search to a select few who could of written the op-ed.

Trump sought to heighten the sense of urgency for his base in Billings, Montana when he told supporters that if he is impeached, “it’s your fault, ’cause you didn’t go out to vote.,,, But I say, how do you impeach somebody that’s doing a great job, that hasn’t done anything wrong?” Trump said Then the threats came. Trump later warned the United States would turn into a “third world country” because of the precedent his hypothetical impeachment would set. And of course he will lose his job.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Justice Department “has taken the position … that the appropriate remedy for presidential misbehavior is impeachment.” Not a good sign when it comes from your own party.

Trump is also fuming that White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine has mishandled the messaging on the Woodward book. Trump believes the rapid response to the book has been handled poorly and he blames Shine for that.

Trump said he’s poised to slap additional tariffs on $267 billion in Chinese goods, widening a trade war between the two countries. Yet another round of tariffs on $267 billion in goods would bring the total imports from China subject to tariffs to more than $500 billion. That’s roughly the same as the $505 billion in goods that the US imported from China last year. Unsure what brought on the latest tariff talks but with someone this unstable, it could be anything.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced to spend 14 days in prison, pay a $9500 fine, and perform community service. This is part of a plea deal to give special counsel Robert Mueller information he wants.

A government photographer told investigators that he intentionally cropped photos of Trump’s inauguration to remove empty space and make the audience look larger, according to newly released documents. The admission, contained in newly released records from a 2017 investigation, shed new light on what happened after the National Park Service shared a social media post comparing the crowds that attended the inaugurations of Trump and former President Barack Obama.

Trump goes after Sessions again

So I decided to do a mid-week blog with mostly leftovers plus the long weekend and I decided to hold off on the Bob Woodward bombshell until the next edition where by then we should see how Donald Trump responds. I wonder.

We’ve seen already that Trump knows very little about the law. Case in point….

Trump blasted his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and lamented the indictments last month of two lawmakers who were his earliest supporters in Congress during the 2016 election, suggesting they should not have been charged because they are Republicans.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California was indicted for using campaign funds for personal use and were charged with counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy. Rep. Chris Collins of New York was charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements related to an alleged insider trading scheme.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” Trump tweeted. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…” Actually, New York and California tend to be pro-Democrat.

A decision by the Justice Department to hold off on prosecuting two Republican congressmen up for re-election in order to help them win would have been highly unethical and a blatantly politically motivated violation of the department’s nonpartisan mission. Trump believes his political allies should be immune from prosecution, regardless of the evidence stacked against them.

Under long-standing Justice Department custom but not law, prosecutors generally avoid public disclosure of overt investigative steps involving a candidate for office or election matters within 60 days of an election.

We know that Sessions should be losing his current job following the November mid-term elections.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great,” the senator’s daughter Meghan McCain said in a stunning eulogy laced with grief, anger, pride and love. “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.” She was obviously aiming her comments at Trump without naming him. Trump wasn’t invited to the funeral.

Trump spent the morning of the funeral at the White House, attacking Canada [see later on in the blog], hitting out at Obama, whose name he misspelled in a Twitter post, and assailing the FBI and the Justice Department over the Russia investigation before heading to his golf club in Virginia. During his campaign, Trump said McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam and he initially declined to release a statement marking his death.

In the third row, behind three ex-presidents, their wives and their Secret Service details, sat Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner were also in the congregation.

Convicted former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has publicly contradicted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress, saying both Sessions and Trump apparently supported his proposal that Trump meet with Vladimir Poutine during the 2016 campaign, according to a court filing.

The Trump administration will hold back more than 100,000 pages of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s service because the White House and the Department of Justice have determined they are protected by constitutional privilege, according to a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Trump again threatened to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] if Canada doesn’t concede to new terms. Trump said there is “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal,” referring to the tentative bilateral agreement the United States reached with Mexico earlier this week.

“If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out,” Trump said. He also urged Congress not to “interfere” with negotiations “or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off.”

“Remember, NAFTA was one of the WORST Trade Deals ever made. The U.S. lost thousands of businesses and millions of jobs. We were far better off before NAFTA.” Show proof that NAFTA is the worst ever….

The United States and Mexico announced a preliminary bilateral trade deal after resolving an issue over auto manufacturing. Canadian officials rejoined the talks this week. But the fate of NAFTA became uncertain when the United States and Canada failed to come to an agreement on rewriting the three-nation trade pact before a US-imposed deadline that would have allowed them to sign a new deal before Mexico’s president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office on December 1.

Trump wants Canada to end its steep tariffs on US dairy products, claiming they hurt US farmers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to protect his country’s dairy industry. Trump also threatened new tariffs on Canadian cars if the country doesn’t comply with US-terms of a new trade deal. Yup. This is blackmail – Trump style.

It is questionable whether Trump can continue with most of his threats. For example, it is Congress which approves or tear up free trade agreements. Not him. He can apply more tariffs but we have seen already that it will hurt Americans just as much.

The Pentagon says it’s taken final steps to cancel $300 million in planned aid to Pakistan. The move earlier this summer reflects the Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s commitment to assisting the US strategy for pressuring the Taliban, whose leaders use Pakistan as a sanctuary. Pentagon officials say a request was submitted to Congress this summer for authorization to use the $300 million for other purposes.

Nine current and former White House staffers and administration allies expressed concerns that the West Wing is simply unprepared for the potential troubles ahead. They spoke on the condition of anonymity over concerns about estranging colleagues.

The White House press office is down to four press secretaries working on day-to-day White House matters, including Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, and the regional and Cabinet affairs media teams in the communications office have been hollowed out.

Trump picked the state of West Virginia to announce his plan to roll back Obama-era pollution controls on coal-fired power plants. Trump left one thing out of his remarks, though: northern West Virginia coal country will be ground zero for increased deaths and illnesses from the rollback on regulation of harmful emission from the nation’s coal power plants.

The Trump administration says it will impose preliminary anti-dumping duties on large-diameter welded pipe from Canada and five other countries. The other countries being hit with duties include China, Greece, India, Korea, and Turkey, with penalties ranging from 3.45 per cent for Turkey to over 132 per cent for China. Canada gets hit with 24.38 per cent.

The United States imposed 25% tariffs on another $16 billion of Chinese goods. The tax affects 279 Chinese products, including chemical products, motorcycles, speedometers and antennas. China responded immediately with 25% tariffs on an equal amount of American goods, such as chemical products and diesel fuel.

Trump tweeted recently that it was “outrageous” that China-produced fentanyl, a cheap and deadly synthetic opioid at least 50 times stronger than heroin, continued to “pour into the US” through international mail. A senior official with China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, said in a press briefing Wednesday that Trump’s comments were “unacceptable”. “The United States has no proof that most fentanyl in the country comes from China,” he said. “It’s highly irresponsible to draw such a conclusion based on some individual cases.” Who would you believe? Hmmmm. I’ll get back to you later.

Seems Trump is blaming China for everything. China has denied an accusation by Trump that it hacked the emails of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election. Trump tweeted that China had hacked Clinton’s emails, without offering any evidence or further information, and suggested that the FBI and Department of Justice should investigate. The same two departments he doesn’t trust?

Trump accused China even though The Justice Department has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Party. Again it shows you how much he trusts his own departments. He is again helping Russia. He defending/helping “Crooked Hillary”? Who would you believe? Hmmmm. I’ll get back to you later.

Here is an example of Trump’s tariffs not helping Americans: When the tariffs were imposed in 2017, Trump expected more jobs in the US as companies would be buying US lumber. Nope. Lumber mills have jacked up the pricing of lumber [probably just ever so slightly less than Canadian lumber]. This has increased the cost of putting up or repairing buildings and other infrastructures. Those buying a new house have to pay extra.

The price of framing lumber had been $358 per thousand board feet shortly before the levies were announced, and rose steadily for the ensuing year, reaching a peak in June of $582 — a 62 per cent increase. That represented an average $9,000 more per house, according to NAHB calculations. Prices have since fallen back to around $440 per thousand board feet, still adding $4,000 to the average home, the builders claim.

The Washington Examiner came out with a story that says an online betting website from Antigua and Barbuda are claiming that Trump will win the 2020 election with a 3-2 bet. His closest challenger is California Sen. Kamala Harris, listed at 10-1. And Trump [of course] retweeted about this. Unsure if related, he added “…And according to Polls, would do even better today!” [related to the 2016 election]. The Washington Examiner is not even in the top 10 circulation of newspapers and is listed under the heading “weeklies and specialty newspapers”. It is as influential as the Plattsburgh [NY] Post-Republican.

A bill that would have significantly bolstered the nation’s defenses against electoral interference has been held up in the Senate at the behest of the White House, which opposed the proposed legislation.  The bill was supported by both parties.

As it currently stands, the legislation would grant every state’s top election official security clearance to receive threat information. It would also formalize the practice of information-sharing between the federal government-in particular, the Department of Homeland Security-and states regarding threats to electoral infrastructure. A technical advisory board would establish best practices related to election cybersecurity. Perhaps most significantly, the law would mandate that every state conduct a statistically significant audit following a federal election.

Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, says that her father would be appalled by the leadership of Trump. Will Trump respond? He went after previous Republican presidents and leaders. So why not go after Davis.

The Washington Post has been counting: Trump has made 4229 false or misleading claims in 558 days [just over 7.5 per day].

Trump told lawmakers he was scrapping a planned pay raise for civilian federal workers [not the military], saying the nation’s budget couldn’t support it. An across-the-board 2.1% pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect in January. In addition, a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where a worker is posted — the “locality pay increase” — was due to take effect. But a day later Trump is planning to spend the weekend studying up on the issue of government compensation.

According the NBC News/GenForward survey, the bimonthly survey found that in the past year, millennials’ impression of the Democratic Party remained split between favorable and unfavorable views. Still better than the Republican Party where there are hovering mostly in the low 60s unfavorable for the past year and mid-twenties for favorable.

Trump hit a new low when over 60% of them in a poll disapprove of Trump.

A bit of humor:

For the services for the late Senator John McCain, in the audience was Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump.

Jared had a question for Ivanka at one point but decided to hold off until later on. After the services, while in their limousine on the way back to their home, Jared finally asks his question:

“Honey. I could not figure this out. Meghan McCain had a beautiful eulogy. But at one point she skirted around naming someone. Who was that?”

Five seconds later, Jared had a black eye.

Is Trump getting nervous about the Mueller investigation?

Donald Trump said his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, should end special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, arguing that the ongoing probe “continues to stain our country”. Sessions recused himself and assigned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to handle the probe. Shouldn’t Trump know that?

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, attempted to walk back the tweet saying that Trump was “expressing his opinion on his favored medium for asserting his First Amendment right of free speech. He said ‘should’ not ‘must’ and no Presidential order was issued or will be.” Except it is one thing for an ordinary person to make that comment, but different if supposedly the President of the US. Carries a bit of extra weight.

White House press secretary and puppet, Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said Trump was “stating his opinion” and “stating it clearly.”

So exactly how many times will Trump tweet or say the wrong words and his lackeys have to correct him? Seems everyone outside his administration and supporters believe “should” is a pretty clear directive. If you say to someone “You should buy a some milk.” Is that an opinion, a suggestion or [when coming from someone with authority] to do it.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!” tweeted Trump. This with just under 100 days before the mid-term elections. Trump claims [with no proof] that the US has the worst immigration policies in the world.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said previously that border wall funding would “probably” have to wait until after midterms and that a government shutdown is “not going to happen.”

In part of a Twitter-storm aimed at the Russian investigation general counsel Robert Mueller, Trump said “Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship…” It was not immediately clear what Trump meant when he claimed there were conflicts of interests involving Mueller.

The New York Times reported in January that Trump claimed a dispute over membership fees had prompted Mueller to leave a Trump golf club in Washington in 2011 when he was FBI Director. I don’t think Mueller is petty enough to hold a grudge for 6+ years on something so trivial.

Trump went after Mueller also for leaking Mueller mentioned the New York Times publisher’s [A.G. Sulzberger] private meeting with Trump. He then called the media “Very unpatriotic!” for putting many lives at risk [from what?]. The publisher wanted it off the record but went public after Trump did and the meeting was about Trump’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric”.

But it was Sulzberger who said that Trump’s any-journalist comments [such as calling them “the enemy of the people”] would endanger journalists, could lead to violence and eroding “a commitment to free speech and a free press”.

Despite Trump’s “failing New York Times” nickname, the Times is actually experiencing a surge in subscribers and popularity. Its profits increased by about two-thirds in the first quarter of 2018. Its “The Daily” podcast brings in millions of listeners each month. This after winning the election he lauded the paper as a “great, great American jewel”.

At a Tampa rally:

  • Trump blasted cancer-stricken Republican Sen. John McCain for his thumbs down vote helping to stall GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • He also renewed his theme that his campaign is responsible for department stores bringing back “Merry Christmas” signage. Unsure how he did that.
  • Trump boasted his tariff war was reviving American steel making [no proof there and its early].
  • He vowed to stand up for the National Anthem [it’s not like he can use an executive order to force players not the kneel].
  • On tariffs, “Our farmers are true patriots. And you know what our farmers are saying? It’s okay, we can take it – these are incredible people.” Yes, this after the government bailed them out to a tune of $12 billion.
  • Trump claimed that Americans needed their IDs “to buy groceries.” So the same should be for voting. Hmmmm.
  • At the end of the rally he said “I will leave now because I am boring you to death, thank you.” For once, he said something right.

John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, took to Twitter to respond to Trump’s comments: “Gross and pathetic – as usual.” Meghan McCain claimed that after a similar comment about her father in February, she had a phone call with Trump [and Melania] about her father’s cancer diagnosis and Trump assured her he wouldn’t disparage her father again. He lied… again.

Giuliani said Trump’s legal team was investigating the tape of Trump and Cohen and suggested it might have been doctored. But “He [Giuliani] expressly waived attorney client privilege last week and repeatedly and inaccurately — as proven by the tape — talked and talked about the recording, forfeiting all confidentiality,” said Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis.

Giuliani has said that Cohen has been lying for years. Funny how Giuliani has decided to say it now after the mess Cohen may have brought Trump and not [say] a year or two years ago – where if he said anything he said only positive things.

“Four months, they’re not going to be colluding with Russia, which I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, said. Former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired, said collusion “is not actually a thing that exists under the federal laws of the United States” but any American that conspired with a foreign government to commit crimes against the US is a crime let alone other crimes such as conspiracy.

Recently the intelligence and foreign policy chieftains mustered in the White House Briefing Room to promise what FBI Director Christopher Wray said would be “fierce determination and focus” to thwart Russian meddling in the midterm elections. Problem was that Trump was not around. Seems Trump still doesn’t believe them. Sometime after Trump said there was no Russian election interference – even though he said they were involved not even a couple of weeks ago!

Even 20+ months late. Trump think that by admitting there was Russian election interference, he thinks his election win wasn’t legitimate – as if he will lose his [so-called] presidency.

In a video posted by a pro-Trump web site, Donald Trump Jr. compared the present-day Democratic Party to Nazis and disparaged history taught by academics. “You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s and what was actually put out there … and you look at it compared to like the DNC platform of today…” He gave no facts on where they are actually alike but used a promo video Dinesh D’Souza [pardoned by his father].

“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” Trump tweeted. “They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more.” Notice how he had to put a positive spin in his favor at the end.

Trump argued that he “made them richer” and that the Koch network “is highly overrated.” The Koch brothers were already billionaires before they had anything to do with Trump and their net worth is a combined $103.4 billion. They didn’t even back him in 2016. This came after a senior official in the Koch network said “The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage” recently.

An estimated $400 million was donated to GOP candidates by the Koch network in the 2016 election – and that’s without supporting Trump.

Trump again complaining how the US has had bad trade deal hurting farmers. And yet, statistics show in 2017, it was the third highest export year ever. Surplus of $21 billion. The downturn is because of low commodity prices and production surplus – not trade issues.

The Chinese government said that it would impose duties of 25%, 20%, 10% and 5% on the products if the Trump administration follows through on threats to tax $200 billion of Chinese goods. These new tariffs would affect about 38% of all American exports to China, which are worth about $170 billion in total.  China listed 5,207 US products that it would target in an effort to “safeguard its own legitimate interests.”

“Simpleton” Sanders said in a statement that “instead of retaliating, China should address the longstanding concerns about its unfair trading practices.”

While tariffs have helped steel producers like Reliance Steel & Aluminum hauled in record sales, thanks to an 18% spike in prices and Nucor recorded the best second quarter in its history. Its profit more than doubled, it has hurt those who buy steel from them like General electric, 3M, Harley-Davidson, governments and others.

In a recent speech Trump said:

  • “Nobody thought we were going to be this good. … When I took over those numbers were bad, and they were heading in the wrong direction, because of regulation….” Economists say that the US economy wasn’t doing nearly as bad before Trump took office as he suggests.
  • “The Canadians you have a totally closed market … they have a 375 per cent tax on dairy products, other than that it’s wonderful to deal. And we have a very big deficit with Canada, a trade deficit.” Can’t be closed if there is NAFTA and even then TPP. Trump also repeated his claim that the US has a trade deficit with Canada, but that is true only in goods. When services are included, such as insurance, tourism, and engineering, the US had a $2.8 billion surplus with Canada last year. He forgets that the US government subsidizes their farmers to a tune of $12 billion and it’s more like 275%.

The US Treasury Department is sanctioning Turkey’s ministers of justice and interior in response to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. “We’ve seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong,” Sanders said, calling Brunson’s detention “unfair and unjust.”

The Democrats blasted the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals, and threaten public safety. Eight states filed suit against the Trump administration over its decision.

Trump said in a tweet he was “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public” and had already spoken to the NRA about it. Trump said the prospect “doesn’t seem to make such sense,” though it wasn’t clear if he knew that his own State Department had reached a settlement last month with the designer who first published downloadable instructions. Probably not.

Trump said he is willing to meet with Iran’s leadership, without preconditions, “whenever they want…. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” Trump said. “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. I’m ready to meet whenever they want to…. No preconditions…. They want to meet, I’ll meet. Whenever they want.” Did you notice how he repeats himself?

You knew this was going to happen: The Trump administration announced a plan to revoke a signature Obama-era environmental regulation. The administration wants to freeze a rule mandating that automakers work to make cars substantially more fuel efficient.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation cited safety as one reason for the changes. They claimed the reduced standards would make new cars more affordable. EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum says if more people buy new cars, it will lead to an increase in cleaner, safer cars on the road. [And more pollution.] Thirteen states, plus Washington, DC, have adopted California’s standards. Colorado announced plans to become the fourteenth.

The administration also proposed a withdrawal of California’s Clean Air Act preemption waiver. California has, for decades, had a waiver allowing it to set its own emissions standards because the state had distinct air quality issues. In 2007, a federal court allowed California to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide.

The Trump administration says immigrant advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union should be responsible for tracking down more than 500 parents who were separated from their children and deported without them. The ACLU says it is eager to help locate the parents but argued that the government “must bear the ultimate burden of finding the parents”. District Judge Dana Sabraw also said the ultimate responsibility is the Trump administration. “In reviewing the status report it appears that only 12 or 13 of close to 500 parents have been located, which is just unacceptable at this point,” Sabraw said.

Hot summer and politics is heating up as well

Longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has been subpoenaed. Weisselberg has served as something of a jack-of-all-trades for Donald Trump. He worked for the Trump Organization and the Donald J. Trump Foundation, yes, but he also handled personal stuff – up to and including tax returns … and apparently consulting with Cohen on how to handle paying for the rights to a story about an alleged Trump affair with a Playboy Playmate, just two months before the 2016 election.

Weisselberg has now been tied to both the potential Karen McDougal payment (his name is also mentioned a released tape recording) and to the payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who has also claimed an affair with Trump, in which he set up Cohen’s reimbursements from Trump.

The probe has clearly expanded into Trump’s business, which constituted Trump’s previously expressed red line. It could also mean investigation into possible abuse of the organizational structure to serve Trump’s personal purposes.

A dozen audio recordings seized by the FBI from Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, were forwarded to federal prosecutors after lawyers dropped challenges on attorney-client privilege grounds. The recordings were among millions of files taken from Cohen in April as part of a criminal probe of his business practices

Barbara Jones, a court-appointed lawyer and former Manhattan federal judge helping to decide which of the seized files are protected by privilege. She Jones notified US District Judge Kimba Wood, who appointed her, that Cohen, Trump or the Trump Organization had designated 4,085 items seized from Cohen as privileged among the most recent items she reviewed.

She wrote that she agreed that 2,633 were privileged, in full or part, but that 1,452 items were not. She said lawyers for Cohen still disagreed about 22 of those items but said they would not pursue their objections. With that, Jones released them all to prosecutors.

In another audio tape, recorded by Cohen, Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing how they would buy the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair she had with Trump years earlier, which Trump has denied since the subject first came up. So he lied [again].

Trump tweeted “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before?” Again, is he that dumb that no lawyers record conversations with clients? I guess he never told Cohen not to record their conversations.

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis says the only people who use cash in large transactions are drug dealers and mobsters. Davis is a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

Cohen claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.

If Cohen can show federal prosecutors credible evidence that Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower Russia meeting of June 9, 2016 — as Cohen now reportedly claims — Donald Trump Jr. could be facing perjury charges. Trump has repeatedly denied being told about the meeting before it happened but apparently never to federal investigators or under oath.

Trump’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, called Cohen a “pathological liar.” “I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” the former New York City mayor said. Giuliani lost his credibility since joining Trump.

Now special counsel Robert Mueller was also looking at Trump’s negative postings on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump asserted without evidence that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page “confirm with little doubt” that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant. But lawmakers from both political parties said that the documents don’t show wrongdoing and that they even appear to undermine some previous claims by top Republicans on the basis for obtaining a warrant against Page.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said the documents detail “just why the FBI was so concerned that Carter Page might be acting as an agent of a foreign power… It was a solid application and renewals signed by four different judges appointed by three different Republican presidents.”

Page said “I’ve never been the agent of a foreign power” but had described himself as an “informal adviser” to the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he didn’t think the FBI did anything wrong in obtaining warrants against Page.

Members of Congress are pushing back against a floated White House idea of pulling the security clearances of top former intelligence officials in the Obama administration who have criticized Trump.

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that Trump is “exploring the mechanisms” to strip clearance from former CIA director John Brennan, along with former FBI director Jim Comey, former national intelligence director James Clapper and others. Comey’s assist said his clearance was already pulled [as in didn’t they check?].

Simpleton said that Trump was considering revoking the clearance for their comments about Trump regarding “accusations of improper contact with Russia” or him “being influenced by Russia.” Doesn’t this sound like a dictatorship? If you can’t agree with the leader you get booted.

To make this happen at the agency level, Trump could follow the decades-old executive order in place, which provides a written explanation to the clearance holder and an opportunity to reply. Officials could also try to invoke the “interests of national security” clause, which is found in that section, and avoid the detailed procedures. Finally, Trump could decide he is revoking eligibility for the former intelligence officials unilaterally.

In a tweet, pro-Trump supporter Sen. Rand Paul claimed that Brennan could be “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media”. No proof of course but could it really be because Brennan harshly condemned Trump’s performance at the Poutine press conference calling it “nothing short of treasonous.” And yet several House Republicans have accused Brennan of political bias and not Paul for suggesting in pulling Comey’s clearance?

Trump tweeted “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!” With just the first sentence, you would think that Trump finally admits that Russia has done some hacking. But that second sentence throws that out the window. Is Russia going after the Democrats and not him or want the Democrats to win? [Scratch your head.]

Trump appeared to return to a previous position that Russia’s election interference was a story dreamed up by Democrats to excuse Hillary Clinton’s defeat — despite saying in a scripted statement recently that he held Vladimir Poutine personally responsible for it.

After Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was dumbfounded with his on-camera reaction at a security forum in Aspen, Colorado, to the breaking news about the invitation to Poutine to the US, the day after he said “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President.” This after Trump wasn’t too happy with the way he acted.

After the Kremlin was only lukewarm on having Poutine visiting Washington [so soon after the Helsinki mess], the White House announced it was pushing off plans for a second Trump-Putin Summit in Washington, DC, scheduled for this fall – just a few weeks out from the 2018 Midterms. Now set for sometime in 2019. Of course why did it take over a week for the Kremlin to decide….

Did Poutine somehow signal to Trump that it probably wasn’t in their mutual self-interest to be seen in public together so soon after Helsinki — particularly after the trashing Trump received after returning to Washington? Multiple senior Republicans were against the idea of a visit.

But Poutine said he is ready to go to Washington and has invited Trump to Moscow, but there “has to be necessary conditions” [which weren’t mentioned]. Simpleton says no invitations received. Stuck in the Email.

The White House rejected a Poutine-backed effort to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine on the region’s future, distancing itself from the idea in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial summit with the Russian leader.

Poutine’s gift of a soccer ball to Trump last week set off a chorus of warnings – some of them only half in jest – that the World Cup souvenir could be bugged. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina even tweeted, “I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.” Markings on the ball indicate that it contained a chip with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones. But rather than a spy device, the chip is an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball. The chip allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball.

Republican House Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan escalated their fight with the Justice Department, introducing a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In a statement, Meadows said Rosenstein should be impeached because of the Justice Department’s stonewalling of congressional subpoenas and hiding information from Congress, and for signing one of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant renewals for Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended Rosenstein, saying he has “the highest confidence” in him one day after House conservatives introduced a resolution to impeach the deputy attorney general overseeing the special counsel Russia investigation. Of course “the highest confidence” with this administration means nothing.

A Russian anchor says that Trump is blaming US stupidity for bad US-Russian relations makes him smell like a Kremlin agent.

US District Judge Denise Casper denied the Trump administration’s bid to throw out a lawsuit that alleges its decision to end special protections shielding Haitian, Salvadoran and Honduran immigrants from deportation was racially motivated. She also rejected the administration’s request to remove Trump as a defendant in the case.

The Trump administration was warned State Department in October 2017 that ending US protections for more than 300,000 Central Americans would strengthen and grow MS-13 and gangs that President Donald Trump has called “animals”. They also warned that ending the “temporary protected status” program could also hurt US national security and economic interests, including by driving up illegal immigration.

Trump tweeted “Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate.” May if they are waiting in line they should rent some Port-o-Johns at the White House gates. So exactly who has stopped by?

According to a report, a week before Election Day in 2016, young men and teens in the [North] Macedonian town of Veles were running over a hundred websites that pumped out often false viral stories that supported rump.

The “news agency” was not launched by teens but a well-known Macedonian media attorney, Trajche Arsov, who worked closely with two high-profile American partners for at least six months during a period that overlapped with Election Day. One of those Americans, Paris Wade, is now running for office in Nevada. Arsov also employed other American and British writers, including at least one who currently works for US right-wing conspiracy site the Gateway Pundit.

But now Macedonian security agencies are cooperating with law enforcement in the United States and at least two Western European countries to probe possible links between Russians, US citizens, and the pro-Trump “fake news” websites.

In an 86-9 vote, the United States Senate has confirmed Robert Wilkie as our new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Trump won something! And he can’t blame the Democrats for this.

Trump will end releasing summaries of conversations he has had with foreign leaders, a policy that has been used for decades.

Trump said that he and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work toward eliminating tariffs and barriers on trade, reducing tensions for now in a brewing trade war. “We agreed today, first of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” Trump said.

Trump claimed that he struck a deal with the European Union that has “opened up Europe” to American exporters, in particular farmers, even though a substantive deal has yet to be signed. The discussions with Juncker yielded only a commitment to broad parameters for future trade negotiations and EU pledges to increase imports from the US.

Trump claimed he has “ended” efforts by foreign countries to abuse the US in trade and steal American jobs, even as the trade feuds he has engaged in are still ongoing on several fronts. Trump argued that the US has been “abused like no nation has ever been abused on trade before,” including by US allies. So how did he end it? Free trade with the world wasn’t announced.

The United States is taking the fight over steel and aluminum tariffs to the World Trade Organization, arguing retaliatory trade actions launched by Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico and Turkey violate WTO rules. The U.S. imposed the so-called Section 232 tariffs earlier this year on national security grounds. The retaliatory tariffs were considered not excessive. If the other countries counter with the WTO, they could argue that the national security reason is flawed.

The Trump administration announced it is offering up to $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs stemming from the Trump’s widening trade feud with other countries. Numerous Republicans including Trump ally Sen. Rand Paul said “Tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers. If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers – the answer is remove the tariffs.”.

Many of the Republicans whom blasted the Obama administration for bailouts during his first term have tough decisions. Handing out billions to the agriculture sector runs counter to conservative orthodoxy, but abandoning farmers who have struggled because of an escalating trade war may not be politically tenable with just months until the midterm elections.

The US Commerce Department sought feedback on Trump’s plans to consider taxing auto imports. It got an earful at an all-day hearing. Critics lined up to urge the administration to reject auto tariffs. They argued that the taxes would raise car prices, squeeze automakers by increasing the cost of imported components and invite retaliation from U.S. trading partners — and allies — like the European Union and Canada.

Auto tariffs would escalate global trade tension dramatically: The U.S. last year imported $192 billion in vehicles and $143 billion in auto parts — figures that dwarf last year’s $29 billion in steel and $23 billion in aluminum imports.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer faced pointed questioning from a Senate committee Thursday about the decision, and at one point was asked directly if Canada was a national security threat to the United States. “In the case of steel, yes,” he said. Lighthizer couched his remarks by saying no one was declaring war on Canada, and called the country “one of America’s closest friends and trading partners.” You can’t have it both ways.

Coca-Cola has hiked prices on its carbonated drinks in cans because the recently enacted 10% tariff on imported aluminum has made Coke cans more expensive to produce. It will be up to the retailer to decide on the increase. [Pepsi will probably follow.] In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the aluminum tariffs is “a lot to do about nothing” and U.S. customers wouldn’t notice.

At one point, with 1 day left as many as 914 parents won’t be reunited with their children by the deadline imposed by US District Judge Dana Sabraw. Judge Sabraw had said “The government has to be commended for its efforts in that regard.”

191 parents can’t be have serious criminal records or declined to be reunified. In other cases, 463 parents have already been deported without their children. 217 parents have been released from federal custody. Some may be wearing ankle monitors as they await immigration hearing proceedings. A small number still haven’t been linked to children, let alone tracked down. 260 parents’ cases require further investigation [can’t be tracked or unsure if the children belong to the parents]. But 1,012 is the number of families the government has already reunited.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose “large sanctions” on its NATO ally Turkey if that country does not release an American Pastor Andrew Brunson, currently under house arrest. Brunson was arrested in 2016 during a government crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities, that followed an attempted coup. Question is why now and not in 2016 or last year? [For once they’d do something right. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a real dictator.]

Trump tweeted “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.” Sounds like “shadow banning” means to reduce the visibility of some accounts. In this case, certain prominent conservatives. This is because a report that found Twitter’s search feature did not return prominent conservatives as easily as their Democratic counterparts.

If it was any other media [think CNN, Washington Post] Trump would of roasted them. But this is Twitter. His livelihood.

Trump retweeted from Dan Scavino Jr. “Lockheed Martin will add 400 workers to boost production of the F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive in U.S. history, after making a good on an earlier promise to President @realDonaldTrump to increase the aircraft’s workforce by 1,800.” So in the meantime it is the most expensive jet in US history. I though Trump was trying to cut costs? Where is the art of the deal?

Trump’s military parade in Washington is likely to cost nearly as much [an estimated $12 million] as the now canceled military exercise with South Korea that Trump called “tremendously expensive”. One may be briefly good for morale. The other is training. Which one is more useful.

The parade would focus on celebrating veterans and involve US troops in period uniforms as well as US military aircraft but no heavy vehicles like tanks in order to prevent damage to infrastructure.

Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was destroyed by a man with a pickax early Wednesday morning, according to the Los Angeles police. A man is in custody and is being questioned. Police said a man turned himself in at the Beverly Hills Police Department Wednesday morning. They better have plenty of spares.

Trump was upset that Melania Trump’s Air Force One television tuned into CNN on a recent trip.

The Democratic National Committee tried and failed three times to serve Jared Kushner with a lawsuit at his Manhattan apartment and was turned away by a US Secret Service agent when it attempted to deliver the packet to his Washington home, according to court filings. The lawsuit alleges Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with the Russian government to disrupt the 2016 election.

Trump tweeted about Amazon again with “Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their “delivery boy” for a BIG percentage of their packages….” Didn’t he whine months ago about this? He has done nothing. Another failure.

The Justice Department charged a Russian national, Mariia Butina, also known as Maria, with conspiring against the US as a secret agent as she infiltrated the Republican Party as well as the National Rifle Association and tried to access corporate leaders. This all occurred in 2015 through 2017. She had discussions of a possible pro-Russian conference that US members of Congress could attend. Wonder how Trump will respond.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has requested to return Butina. The Trump Administration denied the request.

In continuing their pettiness against CNN, the White House took retaliatory action against Kaitlan Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, after Collins asked President Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op. “They said ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,'” and she didn’t want to go anyways Collins said in an interview. “They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.”

To add to the lies, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One that Collins was barred not because of the questions she asked but because of her refusal to leave the Oval Office during an earlier pool spray. Other reporters who were with her have sided with Collins saying she wasn’t shouting, ask anything inappropriate or refused to leave.

 

Another resignation in Trumpland

They must be cranking out the pink slips at the White House.

Reince Priebus says he has resigned as White House chief of staff and was then replaced by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Sources close to Priebus insisted throughout the day he was not resigning, leaving the impression the aide was defiantly hanging onto his job amid public shaming by his colleagues.

Key members of Donald Trump’s inner circle said Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, among the President’s most trusted advisers, had lost faith in Priebus.

“John Kelly is one of our great stars,” Trump declared. “John Kelly will do a fantastic job.” He probably said that about Sean “Garlic” Spicer and Priebus. Look where they are now. Conversations between Trump and Kelly about the role began two weeks ago, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. You think White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was “preparing the groundwork” after Scaramucci went after Priebus all week? [See later.]

Senate Republicans voted to advance to floor debate on their efforts to re-write health care policy, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. But hours later, the Senate decisively rejected a Republican proposal to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, a sign of the chaos expected to envelop Capitol Hill as GOP leaders work to find a plan their conference can agree to. Then they voted and rejected just to repeal Obamacare. Why bother. Trump should not be celebrating this small victory. The only reason why it got this far was because they had to compromise between feuding groups within the party.

And a day after a vote to repeal was also rejected.

Looks like a bit of a civil war as House Republicans are fed up and openly blaming their Senate colleagues across the Capitol for torpedoing their party’s pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare. Specifically they aimed their guns at the Republicans in the Senate who rejected the bill.

Trump jokingly threatened to fire his health secretary if a crucial vote to repeal ‘Obamacare’ fails. He made this comment during a speech to thousands of Boy Scouts where he also used some language that may be a bit too harsh for some of them. Bigger question. Why is he talking to politics to a bunch of Boy Scouts – most who can’t vote yet? He has to make everything political.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted. So Trump continues to whine about Clinton’s mail server which is OK to him, but it is not OK for the Democrats to push for the Russian probe? Meanwhile Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse his candidacy. It was Trump himself who signaled during the transition that he was not going to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton.

And then Trump tweeted “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign — quietly working to boost Clinton. So where is the investigation A.G.” Huh? He’s back to making comments with no proof.

And why is Trump whining about Sessions recusing himself from the Russian probe now – over a month after he did so? Sessions had to do so as he had contact with the Russians last year before his posting. Sessions should never have taken the job as attorney general if he was going to recuse himself according to Trump. [Democrats went after Sessions in his confirmation hearing for making some racist comments in his past. And yet Trump still hired him.] Trump considers Sessions recuse as the most grievous offence in the president’s mind.

Trump badmouthed Senator John McCain during the campaign. Trump wants to take healthcare away from 22+ million Americans. And McCain voted for his bill. It must be his medication. I am wondering what kind of medical attention he got if he was living on the streets or in poverty?

Mocking the Russian investigation in congress, Trump tweeted “Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!”

Scaramucci all but blamed Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus for leaking information After Politico published a story about how Scaramucci  continues to profit from the sale of his hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, Scaramucci slammed the leak of his Office of Government Ethics forms. This was After wrongly asserting that someone “leaked” information about his finances. “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept, he tweeted Wednesday night, adding, “#swamp @Reince45.” And the “If Reince wants to explain he’s not the leaker, he can do that.” Sounds like Scaramucci still believes Priebus is a leaker.

He later deleted the tweet claiming that he had only mentioned Priebus to show that all senior leaders are taking the leak crackdown seriously. The inclusion of Reince in the tweet was seen by some as an accusation. Scaramucci says today’s White House leaks are “so treasonous” that leakers would have been hanged 150 years ago. Scaramucci’s financial disclosure wasn’t leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

Then in an interview published by The New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci used an expletive to accuse chief of staff Reince Priebus of being a “f—— paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation. He also threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president.

Scaramucci notably said he reports directly to the president, not to the chief of staff.

The bad blood stems from Scaramucci’s view that Priebus was insufficiently supportive of Trump at the end of the election campaign and his belief that Priebus persuaded the president to keep him out of the White House in January.

The president’s senior counsellor, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, had earlier speculated that unnamed forces were out to get Scaramucci, saying: “Somebody is trying to get in his way and scare him off.” Something from the Trump playbook.

If Trump were to fire Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be elevated to the top post on an acting basis. But Trump has also criticized Rosenstein in the past. The name of one long-time Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani, was floated as a possible replacement for Sessions. Interesting to note that Giuliani said Sessions had the right to recuse himself.

According to law, Trump could move someone who has already been confirmed in another position by the senate to take Sessions’ job if Sessions resigns – not if he is fired.  Or Trump could appoint anyone of his choosing to be attorney general while the Senate recesses for 10 days or more in August. This would allow him to bypass Senate confirmation until 2019.

Trump often talks about making staff changes without following through, so those who have spoken with the president cautioned that a change may not be imminent or happen at all. But he also hired Anthony Scaramucci with much of notice to anyone including his own staff.

Trump went on another Twitter outburst saying “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” So Trump’s rule [for his opponents] is that if you or you know someone or you know someone who knows someone who donated to the Democrats, then you are biased.

“I would fire somebody that I did not believe could serve me well rather than trying to humiliate him [Sessions] in public, which is a sign of weakness,” said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.

“You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job,” said Sanders, Trump’s press secretary. In most companies, if unhappy with an employee they are fired. Trump should know that if he was a great businessman.

Federal law makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully” give “materially” false statements to Congress, even if unsworn. The consequences are serious: one can face up to five years in prison. Right Jeff, Donald Jr and Jared?

Trump announced that he plans to reinstate the ban transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the US armed forces. The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, which was still under final review. The so-called excuse: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The military brass contradicted what Trump said by saying they were never consulted and until they get orders they will continue to have transgenders in the military.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found. More is spent yearly on Viagra than transgender health.

Just over a year ago after the Orlando nightclub attack, Trump tweeted “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs” and he also said to them “I’m a real friend”.

“A landmark civil rights law doesn’t protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Trump administration said.” What’s next? Anything in law is just an advisory?

The Senate passed sweeping legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia and rebuking Trump in a bill that now will head to Trump’s desk. The bill, which gives Congress new powers to block Trump from easing sanctions against Moscow, passed the Senate 98-2. It passed the House at 419-3. Trump can either pass the bill or veto it, but if he does the latter there will be consequences.

The bill was passed with the House’s North Korean sanctions included, and in exchange, the House agreed to take up any future North Korean sanctions bills that go through the Senate. In addition, it could add protection for Russian probe investigator Robert Mueller in case Trump tries to fire him.

Trump visited the Boy Scout Jamboree this week and went political in front of mostly pre-teens [who can’t vote yet]. He went on and on about politics like how President Obama never went [the current President of the US has an open invitation] or about current rants of his [Obamacare, Jeff Sessions, Russia]. He was doing his speech in front of a big flag. With him waiting at one point, it almost looked like a Nazi salute – bring some to comment that it reminded them of 1938 and the Hitler Youth. Others suggested that the Boy Scouts came to see him. I guess Trump had nothing else to talk to them about. He was never a Boy Scout but President Obama was a scout.

The Boy Scouts of America apologized to the Scouting community for the political content of Trump’s speech at the National Scout Jamboree.

Former speaker of the House, John Boehner, said “…they’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s been around too long. And the American people have gotten accustomed to it.”

Now the GOP senators are trying the “skinny repeal” which would likely eliminate the individual mandate and the employer mandate. It would also get rid of the Obamacare tax on medical device makers.

Twitter has made it clear that it won’t ban Donald Trump from its service, whether the president follows its rules against harassment or not.

A production company has acquired the rights to Joshua Green’s newly released “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” for TV development as a limited/event series. It will tell the inside story of the partnership between Bannon and Trump which led to possibly the greatest political upset in U.S. history. Published last week, the book has earned strong reviews and has landed at the top spot of The New York Times bestseller list. It is based on dozens of interviews conducted over six years.