Revenge and criticism is his specialty

Trump complained about news coverage of the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council in a tweet, saying reporting was done “as though I should think only how wonderful he was. Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!).” You know that means he knows Vindman well.

Trump claimed that Vindman “reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly,” which those close to Vindman have disputed and claiming he was given a “horrendous” report by his superior that he had problems with judgment and leaking information. Vindman’s former boss, then-White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill praised his performance.

Alexander Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a National Security Council attorney, was also fired, “suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country.” Yevgeny Vindman had never testified or spoke publicly about the Ukraine saga.

If it was just Alexander Vindman who was fired was one thing. But both? That makes things even more like revenge. Then it gets worse: Trump tweets that the military should punish Vindman for what he has done. Unless he has done something in the military that is wrong, good luck there. But what Trump wants is political. A US defense official with knowledge of the matter said there is no Army investigation into Vindman, the Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in on Trump’s tweets about Vindman, posting on Twitter, “Has any ‘President’ ever been more disrespectful to U.S. service members?”

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said that Alexander Vindman, a key witness in Trump’s impeachment inquiry, was right to raise concerns about Trump’s July call to Ukraine’s president. Kelly also believes that Vindman told the truth during testimony before House investigators last fall. Multiple former generals and admirals have come out supporting Kelly’s comments. These include Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Adm. William McRaven.

Schumer sent a letter to the acting Department of Defense Inspector General requesting investigations into “any and all instances of retaliation” against witnesses who have made “protected disclosures of presidential misconduct.”

An adviser to Trump said the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated saying “Flushing out the pipes.”

Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office in Washington, who are employees of the Justice Department, had said that longtime Donald Trump confidante Roger Stone should be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison after he was convicted on seven charges last year that derived from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including lying to Congress and witness tampering.

The sentencing recommendation, transmitted to a judge and signed off on by the office’s top prosecutor, had not been communicated to leadership at the Justice Department. The revised sentencing memorandum, which is expected to be filed in Washington federal court, comes hours after Trump publicly criticized the recommendation. Meanwhile, all 4 federal prosecutors quit the Stone case after DOJ pushes to reduce Stone’s sentencing. Other federal prosecutors could follow.

Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month giving them a forum to press the attorney general on the sentencing of Roger Stone and other controversies that have emerged in the aftermath of Trump’s impeachment trial.

Congressional Republicans downplayed the involvement of Trump and Barr in the sentencing of Stone, saying they see no reason for the investigations that Democrats are demanding. Meanwhile, federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has denied Stone a new trial after he made a request for one under seal, according to a notice from the court.

“If I thought he’d done something that’d change the outcome inappropriately, I’d be the first to say,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said. Sure Lindsey.

Barr’s blunt warning that Trump’s constant Twitter commentary and meddling makes it impossible to do his job was a stunner. It set off a deluge of speculation about his motives and potential reprisals from Trump, who brooks no disloyalty. In an interview Barr said “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Trump claims he has the right to intervene. Seems very few presidents ever did – if any. You don’t like the sentencing? Pardon the person after – which I am sure he will.

Trump abruptly withdrew the nomination for Jessie Liu, the former US attorney who headed the office that oversaw Roger Stone’s prosecution, to serve in a top Treasury Department position. Liu had been nominated in December to serve as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes. Liu’s office inherited many of the major ongoing cases from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation. Liu submitted her resignation to the Treasury Department.

When Trump was asked what he learned from the impeachment ordeal he responded: “The Democrats are crooked… They got a lot of crooked things going. That they’re vicious. That they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.”

Regarding Stone “We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens. And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children. Nine years in jail — it’s a disgrace.” Sounds like [of course] Stone did nothing wrong. Wouldn’t be surprised if he is pardoned at the end of the year.

The White House is preparing to present a budget that would not eliminate the federal deficit in the next 10 years. There will be a $4.8 trillion budget plan for 2021. US budget deficit ballooned past $1 trillion in 2019, marking the first time the country has crossed that threshold in a calendar year since 2012.

The deficit has continued to grow due in part to tax cuts and a two-year budget deal that has boosted federal spending under Trump. It’s swelled to $984 billion at the end of the last fiscal year, up from $665 billion during his first year in office in 2017. Only $2 billion was allocated to the funds for the Trump Wall – less than Congress approved. The Education Department budget will be cut by $6 billion.

As a candidate, Trump promised to “get rid of” the national debt, telling the Post in 2016 that he could make the US debt-free “over a period of eight years.”

Over 100 US service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries in the wake of the January 8 Iranian missile attack on the al Asad military base in Iraq. The Pentagon and Trump had initially said no service members were injured or killed in the Iranian missile attack. Approximately 200 people who were in the blast zone at the time of the attack have been screened for symptoms.

Last month, Trump said he does not consider potential brain injuries to be as serious as physical combat wounds, downplaying the severity of the injuries suffered in Iraq. “No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious,” Trump said.

Construction crews blowing up parts of a national monument to make way for the Trump Wall could be on the verge of destroying sacred burial sites. Controlled blasts began inside Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument recently which is adjacent to the monument.

Seems New Hampshire wasn’t thrilled with Trump. At one point, about 14% of Republican voters did not vote for him. Yet he will probably still say it was a landslide or a huge victory or whatever.

Trump tweeted “I would say that was the biggest political Rally in New Hampshire history. Incredible evening!” Without actually checking – if it is possible to check.

Amazon has asked a federal court for permission to get testimony from Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper as part of its ongoing protest over the Defense Department’s handling of a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract. The document also seeks permission to depose former Defense Secretary James Mattis and what he may have known about Trump’s attitude toward the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.

Amazon argues in the document that the Pentagon’s explanation for awarding the contract to Microsoft left out “crucial information and details that led to this flawed and potentially detrimental decision regarding DoD’s future cloud infrastructure…. President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions — including federal procurements — to advance his personal agenda.”

Last month, the company asked the court to block Microsoft from beginning work on the contract, which is valued at $10 billion over 10 years. The court has not decided whether to grant that request.

Seems Trump even couldn’t be true during his State of the Union address early this month.

Tony Rankins, a formerly homeless, drug-addicted Army veteran, got a standing ovation at the State of the Union after Trump described how he turned his life around thanks to a construction job at a company using the administration’s “Opportunity Zone” tax breaks targeting poor neighborhoods. But it isn’t quite true.

Rankins, who indeed moved out of his car and into an apartment since landing a job refurbishing a Nashville hotel two years ago, doesn’t work at a site taking advantage of the breaks and never has done so. In fact, he started that job four months before the Treasury Department published its final list of neighborhoods eligible for the breaks. And the hotel where he worked couldn’t benefit even now because it’s an area that didn’t make the cut.

Trump also praised Rankins’ employer, R Investments, for “working to help 200 people rise out of homelessness every year by investing in opportunity zones.” But it also isn’t quite true.

CEO Travis Steffens said he has hired hundreds of homeless to work at the 400 buildings the company has owned over the years, taking advantage of various tax breaks. But when it comes to Trump’s Opportunity Zone breaks, he said, the company has only one building tapping the program now, a warehouse in Cincinnati where no one seems to be working, homeless or otherwise.

Trump’s former communications director Hope Hicks is expected to return to the White House in an adviser role. Hicks will be working for Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner and others in a number of strategic areas. She supposedly left her chief communications officer at Fox Corporation after about 18 months. Her title will be “counselor to the president.” She’s just 31 years old.

As of the end of 2018, only 15% of the 268 items on Trump’s web site shop had a made in the US label. Some don’t have any. Recently, Mark Meadows, Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump Jr were seen sporting “Team Trump” windbreakers indoors [so on purpose]. So you think the windbreakers are American made? I doubt it.

Can Trump’s presidency get any worse?

Maybe.

Between this past week and the week before, it is probably the worst two week stretch since the Nixon presidency.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison. Cohen was sentenced for eight criminal counts he pleaded guilty to in August. The judge gave him an additional two months for the special counsel charge, to be served concurrently with the US attorney’s New York office term. He has been ordered to surrender on March 6. The judge imposed $500,000 in forfeiture to Cohen, and $1.39 million in restitution.

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: The personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America,” Cohen said. “Recently the President tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law,” Trump tweeted. Trump was privately seething about Cohen’s sentencing, telling associates that Cohen is a “liar,” according to one administration official. The problem is that Cohen was hired by Trump and Trump is ultimately responsible for anyone he hires.

“He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence,” Trump tweeted about Cohen the week before the sentencing. Will the same be said when he is sentenced because of his multiple lies?

After charges brought on to Cohen, Trump and current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani [we haven’t heard much from him lately] both said there is no collusion with Trump tweeting “Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” And yet, if you look at the evidence, clearly Trump could be involved. But what Trump has said could be illegal – tampering with an investigation related to him.

Then Trump also quoted noted constitutional expert [I’m kidding here] Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera, saying “this is collusion illusion” and “there is nothing impeachable here.”

Not surprising, Trump GOP supporters are downplaying the implications by prosecutors in two crimes committed by Cohen. Either they are saying until Mueller releases all the facts or the fact that the payoffs were done prior to Trump getting elected or that Cohen is a liar.

However while the payoffs were done prior to the election, they may have involved campaign money which is illegal if not listed in the expenses. As well the fact that the payoffs were kept quiet just prior to the election. Interesting that Cohen is a liar now but not a month or so ago.

The owner of the parent company of magazines including the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and In Touch has admitted to engaging in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill” [exclusive rights but not use the story] in order to help Trump become president.

Federal prosecutors revealed they had agreed not to prosecute American Media Inc. for secretly assisting Trump’s campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then intentionally suppressed McDougal’s story until after the election.

Trump tweeted: “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.” If you missed it, twice he used the work “Smocking” instead of “Smoking”. I wouldn’t be surprised if late night talk show hosts or political cartoonists make some comments on this.

But then he said in part 2 of the tweet “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution….” So Trump is admitting that Stormy Daniels was paid off. Now special counsel Robert Mueller just needs to see if the money came from the campaign. Even if it didn’t, is this enough to be considered some type of election tampering?

Trump lashed out at Comey over testimony he gave to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, accusing the former FBI chief, without evidence, of lying to lawmakers and questioning his inability to recall events related to certain questions. “On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked.”

At least 16 associates of Donald Trump had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition, according to public statements, court filings, and reporting from news outlets. These communications came in the form of face-to-face meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails and video chats.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi privately questioned Trump’s “manhood” after a contentious meeting bout funding his wall at the southern border. She also compared Trump  to a skunk. Vice President Mike pence sat through the whole thing without saying a word.

Pelosi also told members that she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got Trump to take full accountability for the possible partial shutdown. Government funding runs out for about 25% of federal government spending on December 21. “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said.

After the meeting, Pelosi revealed to Democrats that Trump had claimed in their private session that Mexico would pay for the wall — his oft-stated campaign promise that he has abandoned since taking office. Trump said Mexico will pay through the new NAFTA – money that would go to American workers and the economy.

It is now official: Chief of Staff John Kelly will be out of the White House by the end of the year. Trump has announced his final choice in the chief of staff sweepstakes: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. He will be the “acting” chief of staff even though he is permanent. I guess with the number of people who left the administration, nobody is permanent probably other than family members.

One of the leading potential replacement to Kelly is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. But supposedly because of family commitments, he would only accept the job for a short term. Chris Christie had a meeting for the vacancy be he claimed he didn’t want the job. So why go to the meeting then?

New York Yankees President Randy Levine was reportedly in consideration to become Trump’s chief of staff and is a “wild card” for the post, according to MSNBC.

Trump said this week that he might intervene in the Huawei case [where the Chinese CEO has been held in Canada on a US arrest warrant and caused political problems] if it would help clinch a trade agreement with China, upending U.S. efforts to separate the court proceeding from U.S.-China trade talks and contradicting Canadian officials who said the arrest was not political. China has since arrested two Canadians on most likely bogus charges [in retaliation].

Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for his inauguration, according to sources familiar with the matter. Prosecutors are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence in or access to the new administration.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said, “That doesn’t have anything to do with the President or the first lady.” She’s laying the groundwork to cover Trump from any activity so blame can be laid on the organizers. The committee reported had raised a record-setting $107 million, received much of its funding from wealthy donors who gave $1 million or more.

Trump’s inaugural committee spent funds on hotel rooms and meals at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC and also rented space there at rates negotiated partly by Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. A Saudi-backed veterans’ group booked nearly 500 nights at the hotel in the months after Trump’s inauguration.

The inaugural committee organizers complained to Ivanka Trump that the hotel was attempting to charge $175,000 per day for use of a ballroom and other meeting rooms. That is one heck of an overcharge. So Trump is benefiting financially for the inaugurations with money possibly coming from potential illegal donations to pau for the inauguration.

Trump always claimed his senior staff is “a fine tune machine” but the turnover rate is 62% and that’s more than any “modern” presidency. This includes the most “permanent” Chiefs of Staffs of any modern presidency as well [President Obama had 3 but one was known to be temporary].

During President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said in a statement that “committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office… This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes,” Hatch said. “But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up. Any other citizen would be prosecuted for these crimes.”

But with evidence of Trump covering up the payouts, “The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.” When reminded that it is not the Democrats, but the Southern District of New York, making the allegations, Hatch said, “I don’t care, all I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.”

Some Democrats are saying they may not be able to impeach him while in office but will get him indicted once he leaves. Of course you’ll have those who said he can’t be impeached because it happened out of office will then say he can’t be indicted for something he may have done in office!

Trump has expressed concern that he could be impeached when Democrats take over the House, said source close to Trump. The source said Trump sees impeachment as a “real possibility.” But Trump isn’t certain it will happen. Trump remains confident at this point that, while he could be impeached in the House, he doesn’t believe he would be convicted in the Senate as the GOP remains in control there.

Trump tweeted “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.” Exactly how would billions be saved? Is there a limited time offer on substandard steel? There is some talk to allow $5 billion over two years but considering the Trump Wall already received $1.6 billion and what exactly has come out of it except to spruce up some walls that are already there.

Trump seized on an apparent terrorist attack in France to promote his border wall, the latest example of Trump using fear to push his political agenda. “Another very bad terror attack in France. We are going to strengthen our borders even more,” Trump tweeted. “Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!” The suspect sought in the attack was born in France.

Trump posted a series of tweets threatening that if Democrats do not provide enough votes to build the wall, “the Military will build the remaining sections.” He did not elaborate on how that would be funded.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker [GOP] plans to offer a measure as soon as Tuesday to rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the first formal response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and an implicit rebuke of Trump’s handling of the killing. This will guarantee result in Trump making some nasty comments about Corker.

The Trump administration is doing everything it can to cut the Affordable Care Act costs by slashing advertising by 90% and cut funding for enrollment assistance by 80%. The average number of people signing up daily on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, for 2019 is down roughly 8% as of December 1 from the same period a year ago.

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry, just days after a US government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.

The demonstrations in Paris have erupted into the worst riots France where a movement began as a rebuke of the country’s fuel price hikes and evolved to a broader protest against the cost of living pressures and anger at Macron’s government. And yet Trump blamed the Paris climate accord [which has nothing to do with the demonstrations] as well he claims in a tweet people are “Chanting ‘We Want Trump!'”. Laughable.

The lawyer for four women who claim they were undocumented workers at Trump National Golf Club is calling for state and federal investigations into the Trump Organization’s hiring practices. One claims that managers at the club arranged for fraudulent documents to keep her employed. They don’t believe Trump knew of what was going on. After hired, another one was taken off the club premises to an off-site location and provided with a bogus Social Security card and ID.

Top law enforcement officials pushed back on comments from Trump suggesting the prosecution of a Chinese telecommunications executive from Huawei could be used as leverage in trade negotiations. “What I do, what we do at the Justice Department, is law enforcement. We don’t do trade,” assistant Attorney General John Demers, the department’s top national security official said.

The Trump administration is planning to announce the indictments of multiple hackers suspected of working for a Chinese intelligence service and participating in a long-running espionage campaign targeting the U.S. Additionally, the government is planning to declassify intelligence relating to the breaches, which date back to 2014.

Outgoing US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she used Trump’s “unpredictable” behavior to her advantage in order to “get the job done” as ambassador. “He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and then I’d go back to the ambassadors and say ‘you know, he’s pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far,'” Haley said in an interview.

As if lagging sales in Apple’s new iGadgets are hurting them, Trump is considering widening the tariffs on Chinese-made imports to the US, which could mean new duties on Apple products of between 10 and 25 percent. Trump said the tariffs could impact Apple iPhones and laptops that were made in China, arguing that, “I can make it 10 percent, and people could stand that very easily.”

Trump wants the iPhones to be built in the U.S. If not, he will slap on a 25% tariff. But building them in the U.S. could at as much as 35% to the cost – on a line of phones already faltering because of low sales and high costs to the consumer.

Trump’s world is beginning to unravel

Federal prosecutors said for the first time that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when Cohen committed two election-related crimes in 2016, as special counsel Robert Mueller outlined new contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals. Mueller also revealed that a Russian national who claimed to be well-connected in Moscow spoke with Cohen in 2015 and offered “political synergy” with the Trump campaign.

And yet Trump tweeted, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” He did not offer further explanation of his comment. Go figure that one out.

Trump tweeted “He [Cohen] lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence” after Cohen is working with the prosecution and has asked for no prison time. We will see if and what Trump says if he is convicted and is required to spend prison time.

“He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get……his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free,” People are wondering who “Scott Free” is. Should be “scot-free”.

After Trump canceled his meeting with Vladimir Poutine at the G20 [Trump claiming it was because of Russia’s capturing of Ukrainian navy boats and sailors], various pro-Poutine surrogates in the media [a.k.a. puppets] went after Trump claiming Poutine was in fact the real leader of the free world, Trump is a flunky, untrusted, unbalanced, old, etc. [Stuff we already know.]

One actually used an interesting name: Donald Fredovych Trump. Fredovych would mean “son of Fred” but also could imply “Fredo” as in the disloyal Fredo Corleone who disappointed “the Godfather.”

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks. At a post-G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1st. Not surprising National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow corrected Trump, stating that the 90-day clock on trade negotiations with China began December 1, not January 1.

The administration says China agreed to “purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries”. Of course ” very substantial” could mean really a lot or not that much.

The administration also says Beijing agreed to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance. The opioid – much of it thought to be made in China – is driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the U.S.

Trump claims that China has agreed to cut tariffs on cars it imports from the United States as part of their deal which currently stand at 40%. But the Chinese government has made no mention of cutting car tariffs as a result of the meeting between the two leaders in Buenos Aires.

The original NAFTA deal has landed back atop Trump’s hit list, with Trump again declaring he intends to terminate the 24-year-old trade pact — a move that appears designed to pressure lawmakers on Capitol Hill into approving its recently negotiated successor. That move would give lawmakers six months to approve its replacement once formal notice is delivered.

“It’s caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else,” said Trump. Exactly what is the unemployment rate in the US again? Recent job losses have been mounting under his administration but have been low for a while.

A number of Democrats in Congress said they won’t support it without more stringent enforcement mechanisms for new labour rules and environmental protection. Some Republicans say they, too, are disinclined to support the agreement in its current form.

Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto signed the new U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement during an awkward ceremony at the outset of G20 meetings Friday in Argentina.

When Trump tweets “‘I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'”

Stone is telling congressional committees that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in order to not testify in response to requests for documents and testimony. In 2016, Trump criticized those who invoke their Fifth Amendment right.

But George Conway, who is a lawyer and not a Trump supporter and Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway’s husband, said that under the portion of the US Code that deals with witness tampering in a federal investigation that Trump was doing just that in his tweet praising Stone for publicly refusing to testify against him.

But expect Trump to go after Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser. Mueller told a federal court that Flynn has given “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation and should not get jail time. His early cooperation gave prosecutors a road map for their Russia investigation and may have helped to encourage others to cooperate, the filing states.

There is talk that White House chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving very soon. It has gone to the point where he doesn’t talk to Trump even though it is a job requirement that Kelly to do so. When hired, Kelly curbed access and ruled over staffing. But recently Trump began circumventing many of the policies and protocols he enacted. Daily staff meetings became weekly.

The leading potential replacement is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff who is known to be quite loyal. He’s climbed up the political ladder to the point where Ayers would even join Trump and Pence for lunch. Several of Trump’s top advisers, including Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, have voiced concerns to him about Ayers, with some threatening to quit if he is tapped for the job.

Kelly was also interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in recent months where he responded to a narrow set of questions from special counsel investigators after White House lawyers initially objected to Mueller’s request to do the interview earlier this summer.

The Mueller questions to Kelly centered on a narrow set of issues in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice, chiefly Kelly’s recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged about how Trump had tried to fire Mueller.

Trump has decided to nominate former attorney general William Barr to be the next permanent head of the Justice Department, Trump told reporters. Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has been emerging this week as a consensus candidate to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

As news about Trump administration shuffles involving the attorney general, Trump is tweeting about a different shakeup from months ago as he called former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell,” while he praised his replacement, Mike Pompeo. Trump fired Tillerson back in March and nominated Pompeo, then the CIA director, for the role.

Emails from top officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee were hacked before the 2018 midterm elections, exposing the GOP’s House campaign arm to an intrusion by an “unknown entity.” So why announce it now? Trump has mocked his political opponents when they got hacked by foreign actors, and he has praised Republicans for investing in stronger cyber protections.

Trump said in a tweet “Looking forward to being with the Bush Family to pay my respects to President George H.W. Bush.”. You don’t really look forward to a funeral! And you didn’t respect him in life either!

“I have read every piece of intelligence that’s in the possession of the United States government,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Maybe on their own there is no smoking gun, but according to experts, when you add them all up, it becomes more likely.

CIA has a high confidence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s involvement. The Wall Street Journal also reports that the intelligence agency’s assessment includes electronic communications the crown prince sent to a close adviser who oversaw the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi.

Bin Salman had reportedly said “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements [to go to a consulate]” in a recording. Reportedly, they tried to do the same luring to another Saudi activist living in Montreal but the activist was smart enough not to go to a consulate when offered.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a NATO meeting that Washington will suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days, citing Russian “cheating.” Russian officials the day after warned of unspecified “retaliation” to the U.S. decision to walk out of a key arms treaty.

The House of Representatives approved a two-week extension for a government funding deadline in an effort to avert a partial government shutdown this week but setting the stage for a partial one on December 21. Congressional leaders in both parties have indicated they do not want a partial shutdown, but Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over Trump’s demand for $5 billion for his long-promised Trump Wall.

Trump earlier tweeted “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall” and yet he doesn’t explain how billions will be saved by building a wall. There will surely still be border guards.

A federal judge has finalized the schedule for when state challengers suing Trump over proceeds from the Trump International Hotel get to seek evidence for their case. They allege in the lawsuit that Trump violated a constitutional clause banning gifts and advantages from foreign and domestic governments because of his family company’s stake in the Trump hotel in Washington.

Subpoenas have been served on the Trump Organization and a dozen linked entities in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s ongoing business ties while in office. The lawsuit by DC and Maryland claims Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s ban on emoluments, or payments, from foreign or domestic government entities to the President because of his continued interest in the Trump International Hotel.

DC and Maryland have said the Trump International Hotel’s operations put other nearby hotels and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions. The hotel won its lease on federally owned property before Trump’s election.

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.

Family problems and more departures

The Washington Post published a bombshell report that at least four countries had discussed how to use White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s sparse experience, financial troubles and intricate business arrangements to manipulate him.

The security clearance of Kushner has been downgraded. Kushner had been operating with an interim clearance at the “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” level for more than a year. Now he is only authorized to access information at the lower “secret” level.

The news set off rampant speculation among Donald Trump allies that Kushner’s days in the White House might be numbered. Another announcement saw the departure of a top Kushner aide in the White House, deputy communications director Josh Raffel, the third departure of a Kushner ally in the West Wing in as many months.

With the downgrade in clearance, Kushner may not be able to fulfill his job as a foreign policy advisor such as the Middle East peace process – which itself went from not good to worse since Trump announced that it would move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Is that advising? He also can’t be in any room where a higher security clearance is required.

He can’t even see intercepted communications or the most secret CIA information about their informants. Unless Kushner is cleared by the FBI to receive a permanent security clearance or gets a waiver from Trump [I can see that happening!], his diminished role will spur fresh speculation about his longevity as a White House staffer.

He also worked on trade deals for the United States’ relationships in Asia has been dying a slow death over the last year due to a combination of his lack of experience, lack of respect from world leaders and the actions of his boss and father-in-law, President Donald Trump. The drop in clearance will also affect Ivanka Trump.

Trump pledged to hire the most qualified people in the world to serve in his administration, and made the alleged mishandling of classified material by his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton a key argument of his campaign. But yet, his “qualified” people have either resigned [more likely fired] or can’t get a top secret security clearance. Yet many others also can’t get a clearance approved.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders insisted that the change in Kushner’s security clearance would not impact his standing in the White House. “He is a valued member of the team and will continue to do the important work he has been doing since he started in the administration,” she said. He won’t be too valuable if he doesn’t have the access needed to do his job – maybe except for maintenance work [gardener, pick up trash from baskets, etc.] Trump has the ability to declassify information and could do so in order to allow Kushner to see certain documents, which might not fly well with the national security and intelligence communities. But he doesn’t care about them since has already degraded them in the past.

Kushner’s family real estate group obtained business loans after Kushner met with the company heads in his official government capacity where Kushner met with Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, on multiple occasions while advising the Trump administration on infrastructure policy. The size of the loan was triple the size of their average property loan.

As well, Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, met with Kushner in the spring of 2017 and a short time after, the group lent Kushner Companies $325 million for some of its Brooklyn properties.

The chief White House calligrapher has greater access to sensitive information than Kushner with a top secret clearance. The clearance is supposedly required because of the knowledge of the President’s schedule, as well as the calligrapher’s proximity to world leaders.

Not to be outdone by her hubby, US counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump’s international business deals. The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump. Wonder how her father will respond to this news. Twitter storm against the FBI?

Adding to this is that Trump was already under ethical fire for breaking anti-nepotism conventions by hiring family members.

Trump indirectly notified Chief of Staff John Kelly against removing Kushner’s clearance. So instead, Kelly reduced his clearance. But with Kushner’s job requirements, it is the same as removing as Kushner will now be mostly useless at his job. This could push Trump to remove Kelly from his job. If you remember, Kushner had to adjust his security clearance at least three times to add further information previously left out.

Trump has begun floating possible names for a future chief of staff in conversations with outside advisers. This includes budget director Mick Mulvaney, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Mark Meadows and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

So now Communications Director Hope Hicks has resigned. Hicks explained her decision saying she told colleagues that she had accomplished what she felt she could with a job that made her one of the most powerful people in Washington, and that there would never be a perfect moment to leave.

But one day after she spent hours testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding its investigation into Russia’s attempted meddling in the 2016 presidential election where she acknowledged that she sometimes told white lies for Trump but insisted that she had never done so in regard to the Russia investigation.

Supposedly Trump berated Hicks after her testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. She was considered one of his closest allies. And now? Betrayal?

During Hicks’ testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, she reportedly admitted to telling white lies on behalf of Trump, but said she never had to lie on substantial issues for him. But “It truly was just a setup of this witness [Hicks], who was trying to be forthright and honest,” according to Utah Rep. Chris Stewart. Funny how no one else complained and why 3 days later?

The Supreme Court said that it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for now, meaning the Trump administration may not be able to end the program March 5 as planned.

Trump right away blamed the Democrats on inaction. Trump has previously claimed his plan will allow 3 times more DACA people than the previous Obama administration. The current DACA program could help protect potentially 1.9 million people [1.3 million at this time] who are eligible – the same as Trump’s plan.

Trump called Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson [the deputy who didn’t enter the school building in Parkland] a “coward” as well as other comments. Not only did Peterson, the armed school resource officer, had not entered the building, but three other deputies were also outside the school and had not entered. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles and not one of them went into the school. Maybe because you don’t go up against a shooter with a handgun while the shooter has an AR15. Why isn’t Trump going after them?

While Trump is pushing for teachers to be armed at schools, the majority of state governors, at a meeting are against that though saying that teachers are there to teach – not police.

Trump hilariously said he would have stormed into the Florida high school to stop the gunman perpetrating the nation’s latest mass shooting “even if I didn’t have a weapon” as he lambasted the inaction of a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school.

Trump raised eyebrows in a meeting by suggesting that law enforcement officials should be able to confiscate people’s firearms without a court order to prevent potential tragedies. Guarantee the NRA won’t like that or Second Amendment hawks.

Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign used a photo of a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in an email that asks its recipients to donate money to the campaign. The email contains a photo of 17-year-old survivor in a hospital bed surrounded by her family, Trump and the first lady. Very tacky. A privacy issue?

Trump appears to be backing away from his call to increase the age limit to 21 for some weapons. Surprised? There was a bipartisan bill to “raise the minimum purchase age for non-military buyers from 18 to 21.” But now Trump has indicated how a soldier could be told he or she could use an assault weapon on the battlefield but not at home to protect his or her family.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he isn’t supportive of the proposals to impose new restrictions on gun purchases, telling reporters “we shouldn’t be banning guns for law abiding citizens.” But then he said “we should be focusing on making sure that citizens who shouldn’t get guns in the first place don’t get those guns.” That last part was right but he is assuming like just about every pro-NRA politician that new rules would apply to those who haven’t been in trouble before.

Asked about arming teachers, Ryan suggested that the issue was not something Congress should take the lead on. But Trump is suggesting to do just that and both are gun related which is probably a federal jurisdiction.

The House passed a bill was attached to another a proposal that loosens gun regulations and allows those with permits to carry concealed weapons to legally travel with those firearms to other states. Take them on airplanes?

Florida state House approves only one part of a gun bill – ban bump stocks [sale and possession]. Failed to ban assault weapons, arm teachers or mental health background check.

Donald Trump Jr. liked a tweet promoting a false conspiracy theory that claimed that Parkland survivor Lauren Hogg’s older brother, David, had been coached by his father — a former FBI agent — to speak out against President Donald Trump.

Of all the congress members only 6 Republicans did NOT receive any financial support from the NRA. In comparison only 24 Democrats did receive support from them – with the most at just $49,000 for his career. Eight Republican lawmakers have been on the receiving end of at least $1 million in campaign contributions from the NRA over the courses of their careers. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is among them.

The state of Georgia is threatening to kill a tax break on jet fuel for Delta airlines after Delta abandoned its relationship with the NRA unless delta goes back to the status quo. Blackmail? Just over a dozen individuals used Delta’s NRA discount.

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial race this year, vowed to “kill any tax legislation” that helps Delta unless it reverses course. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back,” he tweeted. We know where he is getting some of his donations from.

Vermont is home to the nation’s most permissive gun laws saying all you have to do was Google “AR-15 Vermont,” get in touch with a seller, and a few emails later and you could had arranged to exchange the weapon in a parking lot — no ID, background check, license, or wait required.

While some expect Kelly to leave the administration, White House national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster could leave his position in the White House by the end of the month and more likely that McMaster will not return to the military and ultimately will retire as a three-star general.

Out of the blue, Trump wants to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum. Unsure what brought this on [but with him does anything have a reason?]. It was not immediately clear whether Trump would exempt some countries from the tariffs, as his national security advisers have urged him to do to avoid hurting key US allies. Already the move has divided top advisors and caused the Dow Jones to drop 400 points.

He had tweeted “Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!” If you look at the tweet, it is basically the same word he uses when he thinks the US has had a bad deal. For example, with NAFTA he complains about Canada taking advantage of the US but yet it is Canada that has a trade deficit.

Aside from the industries that use Canadian aluminum and steel, various Trump backers and politicians have already complained about how it will actually hurt Americans in the end. For example, American companies will have to purchase more American steel and aluminum which is more expensive. The extra costs would be passed on those that use them. Molson Coors [which uses aluminum for beer cans] are estimating it will add 10% to the price of a beer can. That could cause job loses because of probable loss in beer sales.

According to a report, special counsel Robert Mueller is asking questions about Trump’s business dealings with Russia before Trump’s campaign, a potentially significant development in the investigation. Mueller is also taking a look at Trump’s finances in the run-up to his decision to run for president.

Trump publicly chastised Attorney General Jeff Sessions again over an investigation into alleged surveillance abuses. He tweeted “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” Isn’t this meddling in investigations that involve himself? The attorney general is supposed to be independent – not take orders from the President every time things don’t go his way or has nothing else to tweet about.

Trump’s personal pilot, John Duncan, is on a short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration. [Can Homer Simpson be the new Secretary of the Department of Energy?]

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has called off an official trip to Washington to meet with Trump after a tense phone call brought the two leaders to a policy-driven standstill. Peña Nieto called off the trip in March after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall. At least one Mexican official said Trump “lost his temper.”

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has firmly denied reports about its involvement in secret negotiations with a “Russian intermediary” from whom the agency, along with the NSA, allegedly tried to retrieve a trove of stolen hacking tools. “The fictional story that CIA was bilked out of $100,000 is patently false,” the CIA said in a statement. The agency added that the only “people swindled here were James Risen and Matt Rosenberg,” the authors of the Friday reports in the New York Times and the Intercept.

The vague descriptions of the alleged spy saga described how the US spies were conned by a man they believed was linked to Russian intelligence, who fed them $100,000-worth of ‘gossip’ about Trump instead of the material they were after. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not yet officially commented on the issue.
Former adviser to Trump’s campaign Carter Page claims that the US government [i.e. Obama administration] meddled in more on the last election than the Russians. Page always wasn’t working with a “full deck”.

 

From another mass shooting to a huge deficit projected for infrastructure

Donald Trump unveiled a US$4.4 trillion budget for next year that heralds an era of $1 trillion-plus federal deficits and — unlike the plan he released last year — never comes close to promising a balanced ledger even after 10 years.

The growing deficits reflect the impact of last year’s tax overhaul, which is projected to cause federal tax revenue to drop and does not yet reflect last week’s two-year bipartisan $300 billion pact that wholly rejects Trump’s plans to slash domestic agencies.

Trump’s budget includes money to start building 65 miles of border wall in south Texas as well as money to bring immigration jails up to a capacity of 47,000 and add 2,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and 750 Border Patrol agents. [He just has to get his money for The Trump Wall any way he can.] A deficit of $1.2 trillion is more plausible after last week’s budget pact and $90 billion worth of disaster aid is tacked on. That’s more than double the 2019 deficit the administration promised last year. The new budget sees accumulating deficits of $7.2 trillion over the coming decade; Trump’s plan last year projected a 10-year shortfall of $3.2 trillion.

The Trump administration is making a push to sell off federal assets as part of its infrastructure plan. Among the targets: Reagan National and Dulles International airports and two major parkways serving the Washington region, as well as power assets around the country, according to a copy of the proposal. It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Same with the two airports in Virginia, which are leased from the federal government.

The White House says its plan will create $1.5 trillion for repairing and upgrading America’s infrastructure. Only $200 billion of that, however, would come from direct federal spending, according to White House aides. The rest is supposed to come from state and local governments, which are expected to match any federal allocation by at least a four-to-one ratio.

To help pay for the infrastructure, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has proposed hiking the federal gas tax, which hasn’t gone up since 1993, to raise $394 billion over 10 years. Over the past year, Democrats have accused Trump of seeking to create the $200 billion infrastructure fund by proposing cuts to other infrastructure-related programs.

Trump tweeted “This will be a big week for Infrastructure. After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!” He then rambles on how that money could have been used for America’s infrastructure. That amount is inflated as experts say after anticipated future spending on veterans and other factors related to the wars so far are added it would be $5.6 trillion. Most of that money went to American businesses [fighter jets, tanks, etc.]as well as the military [paying personnel, training, etc.]. It’s not like it all went directly to the Middle Eastern countries.

Over the past 40 years, the deficit has averaged about 4% of gross domestic product, the measure of the nation’s total economic output. The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that the recently passed tax-cut bill will move the deficit up to 5% of GDP. But that was before the deal, which slaps on another $300 billion and puts us on track to have deficits as high as 7% of gross domestic product.

Trump, in a speech and in tweets, mentioned only that the shooter in Florida had a mental illness but mentioned nothing about guns [his friends at the NRA must have been happy]. Meanwhile, the leader of a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida said the shooter was a member of his group and participated in exercises in Tallahassee but did the shooting on his own without the group’s knowledge.

Trump tweeted “Am also working with Congress on many fronts.” Where have we heard this before. He will probably announce some initiative regarding his Trump Wall or maybe immigration. Somehow equating that the alleged shooter wasn’t born in the US. And that will be it.

Student Sarah Chadwick, who survived the high school shooting that left 17 dead in Florida, wants Trump and Congress to “do something” about gun control, rather than simply offering thoughts and prayers to the victims of America’s latest mass shooting. “I don’t want your condolences you f—ing (piece) of s—, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead,” Chadwick wrote. “Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But gun control will prevent it from happening again.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the shooting a “tragic event”, adding: “We’re going to work on it in many ways to do something about it.” Good luck there….

Sessions spoke in generalities, and did not address reports that the weapon used in the shooting was acquired legally. Instead, he spoke of gang violence and the threat it poses to children. I don’t think the mass murderer was part of a gang. You don’t need a permit or license to buy a gun in Florida and you don’t have to register it either.

Amid renewed debate over gun control after the school shooting in Florida, House Speaker Paul Ryan is arguing that now is not the time to wage political battles.

“This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” he told reporters at a news conference at the Capitol. Sure Paul. And that’s what the government has said probably after every mass shooting in the last 20 years and then after “stepping back” nothing happens and then there is another mass shooting.

The Trump administration was working to kill a bipartisan deal on immigration that could be the best chance to get a bill through the Senate. The legislation from a group of 16 bipartisan senators would offer nearly 2 million young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children before 2012 a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years. The deal and three others were defeated in the end. Wasn’t it trump who wanted more bipartisan deals?

The plan would also place $25 billion in a guarded trust for border security, would cut a small number of green cards each year for adult children of current green card holders, and would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their US citizen children if that child gained citizenship through the pathway created in the bill or if they brought the child to the US illegally. Some of these parts were endorsed by Trump in a previous plan.

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, indicating he’s poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller’s team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He’s had what criminal lawyers call a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors’ team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed.

Nearly a year into Trump’s administration [based on last November’s information], senior-level staffers — including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Rob Porter — remained on interim clearances even as other senior advisers were granted full security access. It requires those with full permanent clearances to remain vigilant about what information is shared with those still operating on an interim basis.

Now there are still more than 100 staffers in the Executive Office of the President who were operating on interim clearances more than a year after Trump was elected. Some officials who started on January 20, 2017, and were without permanent clearances by November include a special assistant to the president for national security affairs and the National Security Council’s senior director for international cybersecurity.

Some others had been approved for permanent access to top secret information but were still working off interim access to Sensitive Compartmented Information including Don McGahn, the White House counsel, and Sarah Sanders, the press secretary. Other notable staffers, like former NBC “Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who has since left the White House, had no security clearance nor applied for one.

In a five-page memo to the White House counsel, national security adviser and deputy chief of staff for operations, chief of staff John Kelly called for all background check investigations into potential top White House officials to be delivered directly to the White House Counsel’s office by the FBI and for the FBI to share “significant derogatory information” uncovered in the course of investigations into senior staff with the White House within 48 hours.

Kelly also directed his staff to discontinue top level security clearances for any staffer whose background investigation or adjudication process has been pending since before last June.

Porter was involved in serious discussions to be promoted when he abruptly resigned from the White House last week amid allegations that he abused his two ex-wives. Porter had been actively lobbying to take on new policy portfolios outside the traditional scope of the staff secretary. One of the areas Porter was set to delve further into was trade policy, according to the person. Porter was a regular attendee at a weekly trade meeting among top-level administration officials. He was also being considered for the deputy chief of staff position.

The FBI obtained photos of the bruised face of Colbie Holderness [ex-wife of Porter] seven days after Trump’s inauguration last year raising questions about what information McGahn had at his disposal regarding Porter.

Several White House officials, including Kelly, were receptive to promoting Porter. Kelly had told associates that Porter was one of the few competent professionals on his staff and wanted to ensure that he was being used to his full potential. Senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump also viewed Porter as a professional, competent staffer and worked to elevate his standing inside the West Wing.

White House Press Secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders claims that Trump and the White House takes “domestic violence very seriously”. But Trump never said anything. He never addressed the victims – just Porter and very positively [such as have a great career elsewhere].

Ryan said the “Vetting system needs fixing” as the House Oversight Committee’s investigation of the White House’s handling of Rob Porter’s employment following domestic violence allegations. Maybe they should apply Trump’s “extreme vetting”.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is saying he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions [“incidents”] with other travelers. Pruitt used a $1,641.43 first-class seat for a short flight in June from Washington to New York City. Pruitt’s ticket cost six times what EPA paid for his aides seated in coach. Federal regulations allow government travelers to fly business class or first class when no cheaper options are “reasonably available” or if there are exceptional security circumstances.

Pruitt is the first EPA administrator to have a 24-hour security detail that accompanies him at all times, even at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. He has also taken other security precautions, including the addition of a $25,000 soundproof “privacy booth” to prevent eavesdropping on his phone calls and spending $3,000 to have his office swept for hidden listening devices. Is his job more secretive than the chief of staff or even the President?

Records show Pruitt has taken at least four flights on non-commercial aircraft, costing more than $58,000. EPA has said all of those flights were necessary and pre-approved by ethics lawyers. Nominated by Trump, Pruitt has previous had issues with his travel arrangements as well as “winning” the job considering his anti-environment stance he has.

Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company, said its net worth sank to a negative $3.7 billion after it had to “remeasure” its deferred tax assets to the tune of $9.9 billion as required by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by Trump just before the end of the year.

Puerto Rico’s Housing Department said Wednesday it will suspend a $133 million deal with a U.S. company hired to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Maria because a review board found the contract was improperly awarded. But a company vice-president, Daniel Craig, had been nominated by Trump to the No. 2 position at FEMA but later withdrew from consideration. As an ex-FEMA official under former President George W. Bush, had faced a 2011 federal investigation that concluded he falsified government travel and timekeeping records — findings he has rejected as being the result of a poor investigation.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said that he paid $130,000 of his own money to porn star, Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had a sexual encounter with the President before his time in office. “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.” I guess Melania Trump won’t be happy.

Just weeks before the 2016 election, Cohen reportedly created a private LLC to pay Daniels following an alleged July 2006 encounter with Trump, The Wall Street Journal reported in January. He says he neither told Trump nor anyone else in the Trump Organization he was making the payment. And he was not paid back in any way, shape or form.

Why would he spent $130,000 to make Daniels go away — and not tell her story — if her story was fundamentally without merit? It has been reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels’ story.

Meanwhile, The New Yorker published a report based on a handwritten account from Karen McDougal who detailed her alleged affair with Donald Trump for nine months from June 2006 to April 2007, when Trump was two years into his marriage with Melania Trump.

More than one in three Trump administration staffers have left the White House in its first year, a pace that far eclipses the rate of departures in the previous five White Houses, according to a study done by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institute. The pace of resignations, firings and other assorted departures from the Trump White House is twice what it was in George W. Bush’s first year as president and triple that of Barack Obama’s first year in office.

Trump administration is proposing to replace nearly half of poor Americans’ monthly cash benefits with a box of food. It would affect households that receive at least $90 a month in food stamps, or roughly 38 million people.

Instead of receiving all their food stamp funds, households would get a box of food that the government describes as nutritious and 100% grown and produced in the U.S. The so-called USDA America’s Harvest Box would contain items such as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. The box would be valued at about half of the SNAP recipient’s monthly benefit. The remainder of their benefits would be given to them on electronic benefit cards, as before.

The proposal would save nearly $130 billion over 10 years, as well as improve the nutritional value of the program and reduce the potential for fraud, according to the administration. Consumer advocates questioned whether the federal government could save that much money by purchasing and distributing food on its own. Also, families would not know what food they would get in advance nor have any choice regarding what they receive and it could be difficult for families to pick up the box, especially if they don’t have a car.

The wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Louise Linton, goofed again by posing in the March issue of ELLE in a provocative poses [see also here]. Remember that not only did she emerge from a government jet in designer clothes [whose labels she initially tagged in her photo] she got into a spat with a commenter who questioned whether such a display of wealth was appropriate. She’s since apologized, but she still regrets how she handled it.

Trump tweeted “4.2 million hard working Americans have already received a large Bonus and/or Pay Increase because of our recently Passed Tax Cut & Jobs Bill….and it will only get better! We are far ahead of schedule.” With the tax cuts, shouldn’t every worker in the US [and not just 4.2 million] have received tax cuts in their paychecks by now? And what schedule?

No to Democratic memo, a few resignations, but no shutdown [for now]

The spending bill Donald Trump signed only ensures that the government is funded through March 23 — which means there could be another shutdown in just six weeks. The bill also raises the debt ceiling by the appropriate amount until March 2019.

Trump tweeted “This Bill is a BIG VICTORY for our Military, but much waste in order to get Dem votes. Fortunately, DACA not included in this Bill, negotiations to start now!” Shouldn’t that be “Unfortunately” or he doesn’t want DACA in any legislation. I’m almost sure that anything the Democrats proposed will help people in the US.

Senate leaders unveiled a two-year budget deal, but the plan needed to pass the House where it’s already facing strong headwinds. Some senators from the  Republicans [adding to debt] and Democrats [DACA/Dreamers] are opposed to the bill.

“The other thing is there is a huge hypocrisy factor here,” said Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul. “Republicans lambasted President Obama to no end for trillion dollar deficits and now they have put forward a trillion dollar deficit. And I don’t know I think the American people are going to be surprised, upset, hurt that so the so-called conservatives got elected and turned out not to be much different than the people they were criticizing.” Paul is pushing for an amendment to maintain budget caps, but Senate sources say leaders have no plan to give Paul such a concession.

Trump said he supports a government shutdown if Democrats won’t agree to tighten immigration laws, undercutting ongoing bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill. Not much of a negotiation if you are trying to force a deal down someone’s throat. “We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.” Ummm. “Worth it?”

Trump won’t release the Democratic rebuttal to the Republican intelligence memo alleging FBI abuses of its surveillance authority at this time, and has sent it back to the House Intelligence Committee for changes. The claim is that the Democratic rebuttal contains numerous classified and sensitive sections. But earlier in the day Trump told reporters at the White House “It’s gonna be released soon.”

The FBI and Department of Justice were supposed to verify the Democratic rebuttal didn’t contain anything that could cause a security problem before it got sent to Trump to sign. So if it got sent to Trump, then the FBI and Department of Justice approved of it – which means the rejections is nonsense and/or just political.

Senior aides to Trump knew for months about allegations of domestic abuse levied against top White House staffer Rob Porter by his ex-wives, even as Porter’s stock in the West Wing continued to rise. Trump himself supposedly first learned of the allegations this week but has expressed no sympathy towards the women who are accusing Porter of abuse.

Porter’s ex-wives detailed the allegations to the FBI over the course of a routine background check. A year into the administration, Porter does not hold a security clearance. Porter has now resigned.

By early fall, it was widely known among Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff John Kelly — both that Porter was facing troubles in obtaining the clearance and that his ex-wives claimed he had abused them. No action was taken to remove him from the staff. Instead, Kelly and others oversaw an elevation in Porter’s standing. He was one of a handful of aides who helped draft last week’s State of the Union address. Even an ex-girlfriend from 2016 complained about abuse.

Fox News barely mentioned Porter’s issues and resignation unlike other news outlets. [Fox News spent much of the day hyping a debunked story suggesting that former President Barack Obama had waded into the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.]

Add to this mess is that White House communications director Hope Hicks was dating Porter. Hicks helped defend Porter with a supportive statement that was put out in chief of staff John Kelly’s name. Hicks is also caught up in Robert Mueller’s investigation into obstruction of justice and other matters. She was dating ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski earlier in 2016. [Those on Twitter imagine Keri Russell or Allison Williams someday playing Hicks in a movie about how she sabotaged Trump and saved the country.]

Trump seemed to like Porter calling him a very smart person who has a Rhodes Scholar and a law degree. Unsure if true [probably] or a joke [less likely], Trump said he could be a Supreme Court nominee.

Questions will need to be answered such as if Trump knew about Porter’s past as well as how many more staff member in the White House still don’t have the appropriate security credentials [an estimation of between 30-40 require a clearance]. Did Kelly, a former general, ignore this as if he was in the military where abuse tends to sometime go unnoticed?

Speech writer, David Sorensen, who worked for the Council on Environmental Quality, which is part of the Executive Office of the President, has resigned for alleged spousal abuse. He denied the allegations though. His position did not require a security clearance.

To add to the weirdness, after Trump was impressed with the parade in Paris in July, he now wants a parade in Washington – as if there was none before. In Paris, he called it “one of the greatest parades” he had ever seen. Military planners will now look not only at dates and locations for the parade, but also costs, logistics and whether it is feasible to hold a parade displaying large weaponry such as tanks on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL, who claims he fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden is blasting Trump’s desire for a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. “A military parade is third world b——-. We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation,” O’Neill tweeted. Will Trump go after the guy who supposedly killed Bin Laden and face a probably backlash?

Jared Kushner is trying to have a request of exactly who are the major foreign shareholders in Kushner Cos, the holding company primarily controlled by his family.

District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose impartiality was questioned by then-candidate Trump because of his Mexican heritage, is set to hear a case involving the Trump’s border wall. The case, which is being brought by the state of California and multiple groups, challenges the Department of Homeland Security’s power to waive environmental laws in their construction of a border wall.

Rachel L. Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job as the country’s top law enforcement agency has been under attack by Trump. Brand’s profile had risen in part because she is next in the line of succession behind the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein – who has been under attack by Trump on the Russian investigation. Brand’s assistant, Currie Gunn, has also left the department.

Twitter announced that more Russia-backed troll accounts were active during the 2016 US presidential election than previously thought. The social network also announced that it plans to notify some 677,775 users who either followed, retweeted or liked a tweet from more than 50,000 automated bots Russia-backed Twitter accounts during the 2016 election cycle. Add Internet Research Agency (IRA) with a total of 3,814 accounts.

Mike Revis, a 27 year old, won a state House seat in a Missouri district Trump won by 28 points, making this the 35th legislative seat Democrats have flipped nationally since the inauguration. Missouri is a deep “red” state.

In a series of hypothetical 2020 one-on-one contests conducted by SSRS, Trump trails Sen. Bernie Sanders by a 55% to 42% margin among registered voters. He lags further behind former Vice President Joe Biden by a wide 57% to 40% split, and trails television personality Oprah Winfrey by a 51% to 42% divide. Neither Sanders, 76, and Biden, 75, has ruled out a presidential bid in 2020.

While unemployment is quite low in the US, it is the Democratic leaning counties that are scooping up most of the jobs. Of the 30 counties that generated the largest share of new jobs from 2014 through 2016, Trump carried only two.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won fewer than 500 counties and Trump won more than 2,600. But the counties that Clinton carried accounted for 72% of the nation’s increased economic output from 2014 through 2016, the most recent years for which figures are available, according to Brookings. The Clinton counties accounted for 66% of the new job growth over that period as well.

Trump has found an excuse not to go to England with all the backlash: He is complaining that the cost of the new embassy in London was too much. Yup.

With all the hoopla regarding the US announcing that their embassy will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv against the majority of the international community, Trump claims that they are “way ahead of schedule by years.” He said the US anticipates “having a small version of it open sometime next year.” How does he define this? Well, the embassy will be moving into another building the US currently occupies in Jerusalem.

Basically, it looks like a “token” embassy housing minimal staff while [for a while at least] most of the embassy staff will still be in Tel Aviv. This is basically the equivalent of saying you moved to a new house and just dropped off a box in the new house but still live in the old one.

Microsoft said in its earnings report that it took a $13.8 billion charge in the final three months of 2017 due to the Trump tax bill signed into law in December. With the charge, Microsoft posted a $6.3 billion net loss for the quarter. Without the charge, Microsoft’s profits hit $8.7 billion, up 10% from the same period a year earlier. Microsoft did not specify whether the charge was due to a new repatriation tax.

In November, Moody’s estimated that U.S. companies held about $1.4 trillion in cash overseas. Five large tech companies — Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle and Cisco — accounted for nearly $600 billion of that.

 

The shutdown [part 1] fallout

Well, with a week off, I won’t be going over some of the things that came up in Trumpland.

Now onto business real – not fake – business.

The shutdown has been finished – well for 3 weeks. On February 8th, another shutdown could occur. The agreement says that immigration issues will be tackled very soon.

There are some on the Republican side who suggest that the Democrats lost when they “caved in” to the Republicans. When in fact they got their way. It will force the republicans to settle the DACA issue while looking good by ending the shutdown after one business day.

And if the Republicans don’t settle the DACA issue by February 8th [the next scheduled possible shutdown] it will paint the Republicans as a part that can’t be trusted or to negotiate in good faith. If Trump allows DACA recipients to stay, it could be a move that could hurt him with some of his most fervent supporters. Trump said during his campaign that he would “immediately terminate” what he called President Barack Obama’s illegal executive amnesties.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to resume negotiations over the future of DACA and other issues. If those talks don’t yield a deal in the next three weeks, the Republican promised to allow the Senate to debate an immigration proposal — even if it’s one crafted by a bipartisan group and does not have the backing of the leadership and the White House Senate passed the final bill by the same 81-18 vote but some members of both parties opposed it.

Well, the US government was in shutdown mode. And of course you know that the Democrats will blame the Republicans and vice versa.

Consider House Speaker Paul Ryan’s comments that what has DACA got to do with the shutdown. Ummmm. What legislation in any government doesn’t include pieces that have nothing to do with the main chunk? In fact, even Trump’s Wall is included in the mess.

McConnell must be losing it. He kept on repeating the same thing over and over again about 12 hours after the shutdown – blaming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

Schumer withdrew funding for Trump’s border in negotiations over immigration issues with the White House. A staffer who works for Schumer called the White House on Monday and said the proposal, which Schumer put on the table during a Friday meeting with Trump, was no longer operative. Meanwhile, Trump had a framework for an agreement with Schumer on Friday but two hours later, Trump changed his mind. Trump later said there will be no DACA funding if there is no wall funding.

The Republicans failed to remind others that it wasn’t just DACA that the Democrats wanted to be included but as well the same increase in funding the military is receiving to be applied elsewhere.

In order to protect the Dreamers, Democrats will have to agree to the White House immigration wish list — scrap the diversity lottery program, end so-called chain migration and give greater latitude to immigration officials to deport people who are apprehended.

A more recent plan calls for 1.8 million people []so not only DACA people] to gain citizenship eventually but another 1 million or so other immigrants. In exchange, Trump wants $25 billion fund for the wall plus drastic changes to the immigration lottery using “merit” [not diversity] and preventing people from sponsoring their parents, adult children, or siblings to immigrate to the US. The staunch conservatives are upset of the extra immigrants added to the total. Some democrats are upset over the other concessions and changes to the immigration lottery.

Trump only seemed to have time for a short mid-day meeting with Schumer. That’s it. Is that what you call leadership? [Seems White House Press Secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders thought so.] Unlike the useless [probably photo-op] meeting, Schumer at least negotiated. At the last shutdown in 2013, with President Obama in office, Trump then said it is the President that is lacking leadership.

The Republicans released right after a TV ad which called Democrats “complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.” Last I checked, with exception of the DACA issue and Trump’s Wall funding, there is no connection. [Even if the government added money for Trump’s Wall that wall won’t go up overnight and the way it looks, it won’t go up for a long while.] Even Ryan said “I don’t know if that’s necessarily productive.”

Trump tweeted at one point his call for McConnell to invoke the so-called nuclear option and thereby remove leverage for Senate Democrats. Senate Republican Conference does not support changing the 60-vote rule. Senate rules impose a threshold of 60 votes to break a filibuster, and Senate Republicans currently hold a slim majority of 51 votes.

Eliminating the 60-vote threshold to break a legislative filibuster would remove significant powers for the minority party in the Senate, and party leaders have been reluctant to do so in the past because of the consequences it would pose when their party returns to the minority. Wonder if Trump knows this or cares. He could be a head of a probably minority in the senate after November and even in the house.

With the shutdown, Trump canceled his appearance at his first inauguration anniversary at Mar-A-Lago where Republican donors shelled out $100,000 a seat to be there. Instead, they will get Eric Trump and his wife. Is that an improvement?

When calling the White House at one point you would get the message: “Unfortunately, we cannot answer you call today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding – including funding for our troops and other national security priorities – hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down.” Isn’t the White House supposed to be neutral?

A recent re-election campaign ad from Trump, released just hours after the shutdown began, that called Democrats “complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

Trump has hinted that he may push the DACA deadline in March back further. There goes another promise.

Meanwhile on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, aside from the shutdown, tens of thousands were protesting across the US in anti-Trump rallies mixed in with Women’s rallies across the world.

Trump supposedly said “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things.” This is about his White House chief of staff John Kelly. It’s not just because of Kelly’s interview on Fox News recently, in which Kelly said Trump’s policy for the US-Mexico border wall had “evolved.” But the day after the interview Trump reportedly said “He is great, I think he is doing a great job.”

Round 6 of talks for updating NAFTA will began in Montreal. Trump made NAFTA a core campaign issue. He argues that Mexico is taking jobs and billions of dollars in commerce away from the United States. He also believes a new deal will help the U.S. finance payment for the border wall. [How’s that?] Trump also wants NAFTA to be terminated every five years unless all three countries agreed to sign on for another five years. Mexico and Canada object to this.

Trump’s trade team wants to raise that threshold up to 85% from 62%. The problem is that Trump’s negotiators are proposing that half of auto parts sourced from North America come specifically from the United States. About 14 million U.S. jobs in about two-thirds of the states depend on trade with Canada and Mexico with a potential 300,000 jobs lost if NAFTA is killed.

Trump’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short, said that the immigrants in question are law-abiding and “productive to our society.” Short said the administration wants to “find a pathway for them” to stay in the U.S.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s request to question Trump, and news that his team has already interviewed fired FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, indicate that the special counsel has a clear picture of where he is headed in what could turn into an obstruction of justice case, legal experts said.

If called upon, a poll says the 95% of Democrats, 75% of independents and 59% of Republicans think Trump should testify.

Trump called for Mueller’s firing last June, White House counsel Don McGahn refused to order the Justice Department to fire Mueller because he disagreed with Trump’s reasoning, the source said. However, according to the source, McGahn did not threaten to resign directly to Trump.

Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign staffer who pleaded not guilty in October to eight charges of money laundering and failing to register foreign lobbying and other business, may be ready to cooperate with Mueller.

The White House said Trump was ready to declassify a memo written by GOP committee staff in the House claiming misconduct by FBI officials investigating Trump. [But remember, they haven’t yet. Is there a memo?]

FBI Director Chris Wray threatened to resign as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on him to fire his outgoing Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who is eligible to retire in March and to clean out senior leadership figures dating from the Comey era who the President believes are biased against him. Trump has publicly called on McCabe to step down over the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and his connections to anti-Trump messages sent between two FBI employees during the campaign.

Trump had asked acting FBI director Andrew McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 election in an introductory Oval Office meeting in May 2017, The Washington Post reported. McCabe responded by telling Trump that he didn’t vote.

McCabe’s wife, when she was a candidate for state Senate in 2015, got a $467,000 contribution from a super PAC associated with then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Yes, McAuliffe is a long-time friend of the Clintons.

This is laughable. Conservative media is aflame of late with talk of a “secret society” within the FBI which has as its goal the undermining of Donald Trump’s presidency. This all starts with text messages exchanged between two senior FBI officials named Peter Strzok and Lisa Page during and after the 2016 election.

Republican South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said that he had seen a text message between the two officials on the day after the November 2016 election that said [jokingly], “Perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society.” Another Republican also threw in the Department of Justice as part of this “society”. A third GOP says that “we have an informant talking about a group that was holding secret meetings off-site” but never mentioned who.

All this on top of 5 months of missing texts between FBI agents on government phones which according to the Department of Justice, this is actually normal but it is not from specific people but everyone at the FBI – an estimated 10% of all texts. The texts have since been recovered.

“As a business person I was treated well by the press … I’ve always had a good press. It wasn’t until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean … how fake the press can be, as the cameras start going off in the background,” Trump said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He was booed by the press.

Trump claims that 84 stock market “records” were set this past year in his first year in office. This is the equivalent of saying that a baseball player hits 75 home runs [breaking the record of 70 in a season] that the player set 5 records [one for each home run] when in fact it is just one record.

With no real facts, Trump claims that the stock market would be down 50% if Hillary Clinton won.

He also said that a few people [he never named anyone of course] said Davos this year was harsher [or rougher] than previous years and equated it to the Academy Awards.

In case you missed it, there are allegations that porn actress Stormy Daniels and Trump engaged in a sexual affair in the 2000s and she was paid $130,000 in hush money just prior to the 2016 elections. She has kept mum on the subject but never really denied. Trump, obviously, denies it [it would of happened while he was just at the beginning of his marriage to Melania].

If the affair never existed, then why did Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, set up a company in Delaware [a state notorious for its lack of corporate transparency] and make a $130,000 payment to Daniels right before the 2016 election? Cohen did not deny making the payment.

The president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said “These alleged affairs, they’re alleged with Trump, didn’t happen while he was in office.” Oh sure, he’s in office for just a year but has 70+ years otherwise out of office. Probably no proof he hasn’t had anything since in office. And this from a man who’s made various vulgar comments and on his third wife.

Trump approved tariffs on both washing machines [but not dryers?] and solar panels in order to protect U.S. manufacturing. Prices could jump 15% to 20%. Because washers and dryers are typically sold as a pair, prices for both appliances could go up.

In Zurich, according to a New York Times photographer in the press pool, someone had written “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL” in the snowy patch next to the landing zone in Davos so it was visible from the air.

Trump’s troubles continue…

… But if he kept his mouth shut, he wouldn’t have half of them.

Donald Trump urged House members to adopt the Senate’s budget and follow through on tax reform during a House GOP conference call. “We are on the verge of doing something very, very historic,” Trump said. Trump claimed the plan “will bring back trillions” of American dollars currently overseas. Something historic like another failure in passing this legislation? Money back from overseas? Never explains his “thinking”.

The Republican tax reform framework proposes eliminating the State and Local Tax deduction, a popular tax break that affects nearly one-third of filers but 30 GOP members may balk at it. Assuming no Democrats agree, if more than 22 GOP disagree, the budget will fail.

But in the end the House of Representatives narrowly passed a budget resolution that clears the path for Congress to fast-track tax reform legislation. The vote was 216-212, with 20 Republicans joining Democrats in opposing the measure. Not a good sign even though it passed. The budget includes reconciliation rules that will allow the Senate to pass tax reform with only a simple majority rather than the usual 60 to overcome a filibuster. Cheating again.

John Kelly, before he was Chief of Staff, warned Trump at the beginning of his term not to call the widows of servicemen who died. Kelly also said that [without saying it] Trump was wrong. All presidents have written the widows but very few have called because no matter what they say, it won’t help in grieving.

Trump continue to go after Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson saying “Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party, a disaster for Dems. You watch her in action & vote R!”. “Niger is @realDonaldTrump’s Benghazi. He needs to own it,” Wilson tweeted after. Wilson claims she heard Trump call a serviceman’s widow and said to her “[he] knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” Sanders backtracked her “inappropriate” comments later after defending Kelly.

In an interview with Good Morning America, the widow of the serviceman who spoke to Trump said “I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name.” She said she also wants to know why she hasn’t been allowed to see her husband’s body. “The phone was on speaker phone. Why would we fabricate something like that?”

I’m sure it was after that interview that Trump tweeted “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Why doesn’t he give up. He lied again.

Everything in the White House, from phone conversations to Emails, are recorded. So why doesn’t Trump release the recording of his conversation with the widow to finally put this issue to rest and see who told the truth and who didn’t. I can guess who didn’t.

Then Trump said “Sen.[Bob] Corker is the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee, & look how poorly the U.S. has done. He doesn’t have a clue as…..” Do you have a clue? And then “People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back…”

The he tweeted “Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!” [Does he know how to spell Tennessee?] and “Isn’t it sad that lightweight Senator Bob Corker, who couldn’t get re-elected in the Great State of Tennessee, will now fight Tax Cuts plus!” [Corker has said he is retiring from the Senate and not seeking re-election.]

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018, and then promptly took the Senate floor and began a lengthy screed against the state of Republican politics in the Trump era. Among other things he talked about “the flagrant disregard for truth or decency”, “the degradation of our politics”, and “such mercurial behavior”.

With Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain all claiming that they probably will not vote in favor of any Trump legislation, the probably of any legislation passing with at least a few Democrats is unlikely.

Then Trump dismissed scathing criticism by Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, saying the real reason they are retiring is because of unfavorable election odds, not dissatisfaction with their party’s standard-bearer. [So Trump admitted that Corker was retiring and not running again. Finally.]

Trump tweeted “The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!” Multiple standing ovations at a lunch? Wish there was video footage to confirm.

Hillary Clinton, on a 15 city book tour promoting her book “What Happened” came to the Montreal stop with a fractured her right foot talking about her book and explaining what did happen. She blames a number of reasons why she didn’t win: from her campaign errors to the Email server to the FBI investigation and others. [Yes, Trump, she did blame her campaign for mistakes made which includes herself.]

So surprising was Trump’s victory to her that she had not prepared a concession speech, she said, and was not prepared to deliver one in the early hours of November 9th. Clinton said that attending Trump’s inauguration was like a “root canal on steroids. I really did not want to go.”

She does not think Trump was qualified to be president, she said. But what she came to realize in time was that “this was the reality-TV campaign and he was the reality-TV candidate. I was the candidate of reality — and I was just not as entertaining.”

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders is really drinking the Trump Kool-Aid. After both Presidents Barrack Obama and George W. Bush made comments about Trump without using Trump’s name, Sanders claims that both were not talking directly about Trump in their speeches as they would of used Trump’s name. Unsure about Obama but Bush has not said anything about Trump in probably over a year.

Huckabee also claimed Trump “helped defeat ISIS”. Unfortunately, ISIS abandoned Raqqa [their quasi-capitol] but are still fighting. She also said Trump “brought unemployment to a 16-year low” but it has been Obama’s final years that helped drive the drop in the unemployment rate according to experts.

With all the cases brought up of sexual harassment [and worse], a reporter asked Sanders if the White House officially thought those women were lying. Sanders offered a very short non-answer: “We’ve been clear on that in the beginning and the President’s spoken on that.”

The allegations from the White House come amid news that the Clinton campaign and DNC helped fund research that led to the dossier that included salacious allegations about Trump, his conduct in Russia and included allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Sanders sought to turn the Russia spotlight on Democrats, arguing that “if any collusion took place, it would be between the DNC and the Clintons.” She declined to answer a follow-up asking what evidence Trump has to accuse Hillary Clinton of colluding with the Russians.

Trump invited some of the kids belonging to the media and asked the kids “How does the press treat you?” I think the kids didn’t know what to say.

Trump is claiming by reducing the corporate tax it will also give an extra $4000 [and at one point he said up to $5000] to each US households. He is getting this from the economic council of advisors. But all this was based on a study from Harvard but the author says maybe $800 but under the right conditions? Trump likes to increase things.

The judge sentencing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had to delay his decision following Trump’s comments about the case could affect the public’s perception of the military justice system. Trump’s recent comments are preventing a fair proceeding.

Five former Presidents got together in Texas at a relief concert to help Texas. Trump? Sent a video message that was very stoic and scripted. No expression.

Trump tweeted “…9 months than this Administration. Over 50 Legislation approvals, massive regulation cuts, energy freedom, pipelines, border security….” Not 50 Legislative approvals as they were executive orders. Does he know the difference? Border security? Travel bans continue to be shot down by courts. Everything else from executive orders.

Trump also tweeted “It is finally sinking through. 46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred.” Wonder where he got that percentage from. I guess he wanted high enough to make it slightly believable and not say 76% which sounds like a dictatorship percentage.

An early Happy Halloween to The Witch, KellyAnne Conway.

Seems the Trump administration doesn’t want a NAFTA deal with Canada and Mexico. The administration wants [for example] auto content made in the US up at a least 50%. This would increase the cost and the price of autos [higher US labor costs at least] which would probably decrease auto sales and maybe even reduce jobs. Even various experts such as the US Chamber of Commerce want a proper NAFTA deal.

“This epidemic is a national health emergency,” Trump said. “Nobody has seen anything like what is going on now….. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.” Worse than the 60s and early 70s with the drugs? He declared a nationwide health emergency, a designation that will not automatically be followed by additional federal funding for the crisis.

In just 9 months, Trump has personally attacked 1 in 5 GOP senators.

Democratic mega-donor and billionaire Tom Steyer is spending more than $10 million on a national TV ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment.

Sen. Thom Tillis went to a lunch with Republican lawmakers carrying a bag of popcorn, ready for Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill after Trump feuded with Sen. Bob Corker.

Trump wished country singer, Lee Greenwood, a happy birthday – except he tweeted to the wrong Lee Greenwood [a New York lawyer]. Trump then deleted the original tweet [is he embarrassed?] and tweeted the right one. [Deleting a tweet by the “president” is probably illegal under American laws.]

While not even at the end of the year, Trump’s administration added $80 billion to the country’s deficit which will hit $666 billion this year [hmmm – 666]. Of note, corporate income taxes fell by $2.5 billion year over year to $297 billion while individual income taxes rose by $41 billion to $1.587 trillion.

The State Department’s inspector general has looked into complaints that the US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Scott Brown, made inappropriate comments to women during an official visit to the Samoan capital of Apia. He was appointed by Trump.

Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company, linked to the Trump campaign contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016 regarding thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails kept on a private server while she was secretary of state.

Fox News leads the number of Trump interview with 19. All the others combined have one more than Fox News. The New York Times has had four interviews with the President, NBC and Reuters have had three each, and the Wall Street Journal has had two.

According to an early analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a think tank in Washington, bottom 95% of households, by contrast, would get a bump of just 0.5% to 1.2% [average]. Compare that to the top 1% [those making $730,000+] who would see a 8.5% increase and the top 0.1% [those making $5+ million] who’s after tax income would jump 10%. But 13.5% of middle income filers as well as some in a higher bracket would actually pay primarily because the GOP framework calls for the repeal of most itemized deductions, including the lucrative state and local tax deduction.

Of course, if you reduce taxes to just about everyone, someone has to pay. Otherwise, it will be added to the debt.

Trump accidentally referred to the Virgin Islands’ governor as their President during a speech saying “I met with the President of the Virgin Islands” — even though he is technically their President.

Trump has endorsed Republican Ed Gillespie in the Virginia gubernatorial race. But the candidate appears to go out of his way to avoid mentioning his most prominent supporter. Trump’s endorsement isn’t mentioned anywhere on Gillespie’s campaign website or his social media pages. Gillespie doesn’t discuss Trump unless he’s prompted to do so. He doesn’t criticize the President, but he also doesn’t make an effort to embrace him, either.

[When was there ever a governor who didn’t want the sitting President’s endorsement before? Another first.]

CNN had a former Republican politician who claims that 1800+ false or exaggerated claims by Trump since January [as researched by the NY Times] are all exaggerated because she thinks the way they were checked. All 1800+? In addition, she claims that the period under Obama was the slowest growth in economy. This after digging out of the recession with George W. Bush. Towards the end of 2008, in Bush’s final term, it hit a low of -8%. During Obama’s 8 years it hit a high of about 5.5% in 2014.

New Yorkers with views of the East River may have spotted a row of bright-red digital numbers affixed to a building on the Queens waterfront. The mysterious display is actually a clock counting down the time left in Trump’s first term. Can it tick down faster?

A slim majority of Americans (52%) oppose Trump’s recent tax reform proposals, according to a poll, while only one-third (34%) say they support the Trump plan.

In a poll taken in mid-October, overall, 37% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency, 57% disapprove — virtually identical to his marks in late September. But the percentage who say things in the country are going well has fallen from 53% in August to 46% now, about the same as after Trump’s tumultuous first weeks in office.

38% say the policies Trump has proposed will move the country in the right direction, 56% say the wrong direction. 32% approve of the way the President is handling his relationship with Republicans in Congress while 54% disapprove. Nearly half (47%) overall say they have more confidence in the GOP in Congress to handle major issues facing the country vs. 30% who say they have confidence in Trump. A sizable 17% trust neither.

 

Trump and his [dis-] like for Republicans

Donald Trump blamed Senate Republicans, not himself, for the stalled GOP agenda ahead of a crucial White House lunch meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on getting make-or-break tax legislation back on track.

“They’re [the Senators] on another vacation right now. I think that we would all be a lot better off if the Senate would stop taking vacations and start staying here until we actually get some real things accomplished,” Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said. In other words, Trump is trying to get all the available time in Congress to try and pass his first major piece of legislation.

Trump said he feels “closer than ever before” to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a man he’s publicly criticized for his handling of the GOP agenda and on whom the President is relying for getting a legislative accomplishment in the first year of his term. Come back within a couple of weeks. That “closer” won’t be that close. Remember that over the August recess, Trump publicly bemoaned McConnell’s leadership ever since the Senate failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in July.

San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich says that “Unfit intellectually, emotionally, & psychologically to hold this office & the whole world knows it.” He’s also a “soulless coward” following his false assertion former Presidents Barrack Obama and George W. Bush did not reach out to families of fallen soldiers. This after Trump said about the soldiers killed in Niger: “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls … I call when it’s appropriate.”

Trump, in defense of his claim that President Obama didn’t call the loved ones of fallen soldiers, said that Obama did not call his chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, after his son died in Afghanistan. I’m suspecting the President does not call every family after someone dies – even John Kelly who was a lieutenant general at the time. 466 American troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan in Obama’s first year, compared to 25 in Trump’s first 9 months.

Trump “wasn’t criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact,” Sanders said even though her boss went back on his comments. Is she on the same page as her boss?

It took Trump 12 days to personally publicly say something regarding the 4 soldiers who died in Niger. A statement was ready but never released. Spokeswoman Sanders did give condolences the day after but not specifically from Trump.

Trump called the widow of one of the 4 soldiers and, according to Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson [who was with the widow at the time of the call], Trump said that the serviceman killed “knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”

But Trump tweeted “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” The widow had already sided with the “Democratic” Congressman and said that Trump did say his comments. The soldier’s mother also confirmed he said it. I would guess there is proof from Trump. [In fact, the conversation should be recorded as all communication is.]

Trump said he’d written letters to the family of the for that were killed but the letters had not yet been mailed. Supposedly they had been awaiting information before proceeding

Trump sent a $25,000 personal check to the family of a fallen soldier the same day that The Washington Post reported that he had promised the soldier’s father a personal donation during a June condolence call but never followed through. According to the Post, Trump called Chris Baldridge in June, weeks [not days] after his son was killed. During the call, the Post reported, Trump offered him $25,000 and said he would instruct his staff to establish an online fundraising page for the family.

Kelly is starting to sound like his boss. He accused Wilson of claiming credit for securing $20 million in federal funding to build a new FBI field office in Miami in 2015. In fact, in her speech at the dedication ceremony, she took credit for shepherding legislation naming the FBI building. Kelly digging up things that have nothing to do with the issue at hand?

Trump, hours after Sen. John McCain delivered a speech that repudiated Trump, warned the Arizona Republican to “be careful” because at some point he will “fight back.” He hasn’t already? McCain warned the United States against turning toward “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”

Trump sent this tweet “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?” He is suggesting that a dossier prepared by a former member of British intelligence has not only been totally discredited but that it might have been funded by some combination of Russia, the Democratic Party and, wait for it, the FBI!

Trump has personally interviewed candidates for US attorney positions in New York and Washington, but since these particular candidates for US attorney positions are the chief federal prosecutors who are going to decide whether to indict Trump campaign advisers or staff if there’s collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians proven and possibly consider criminal charges against Trump himself.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon implored conservative activists at a Washington gathering to continue fighting the GOP establishment, attacking a number of Republican members of Congress by name, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Bob Corker. “Right now, it’s a season of war against a GOP establishment.”

Bannon is recruiting conservative candidates for the 2018 midterm election and forming a donor network to back them in primary races against incumbent Republican senators – those against Trump. Bannon backed former Judge Roy Moore to oust Sen. Luther Strange in an Alabama Republican primary last month. Oddly Trump backed Strange, who lost to Moore. Moore, a former judge, has defied federal court orders, described Islam as a false religion and called homosexuality evil.

In a speech to religious conservatives recently, Bannon suggested that GOP incumbents may avoid challengers from the right flank of the party if they disavow McConnell and meet other conditions. Looks like Bannon is pushing for hard conservatives who may be a bit too right/strong for soft leaning Republicans and those undecided.

So with the wildfires in California killing at least 40 people and destroying many acres of land including the now devastated wine industry, Trump said he had spoken with Gov. Jerry Brown and that the federal government would stand with the “people of California and be there with you in this time of terrible tragedy and need.” No visiting, no help, nothing since. Not even a condolences to those families who have suffered.

A federal judge in Hawaii issued an order blocking major parts of Trump’s newest travel ban, suggesting it violated immigration law. Challengers to the ban said it would hurt Hawaii’s state university system, which has students, professors and visitors from the blocked countries, as well as the Hawaii tourism industry. Individuals who sued said the ban would prevent their relatives from immigrating to the U.S. and visiting.

Larry Flynt, best known as the publisher of the pornographic magazine Hustler, placed a full page ad in the Sunday edition of The Washington Post with no pictures, just bold, all-caps text dominating the top third of the page: ” Million For Information Leading To The Impeachment And Removal From Office Of Donald J. Trump.” [Smaller text below it.] I guess Trump won’t be “reading” his magazine anymore.

According to Forbes, Trump’s fortune fell by $600 million to $3.1 billion. As a result he dropped to #248 on the American list, after coming in at #156 last year. The magazine attributed his decline in wealth to “a tough New York real estate market, particularly for retail locations; a costly lawsuit and an expensive presidential campaign.” On Bloomberg’s worldwide billionaires list, his net worth at $2.86 billion.

Of note, Trump has two golf resorts in Scotland and their combined losses was $25 million in 2016. They have lost a combined $53 million since Trump acquired them in 2014 even after he supplied both businesses with huge loans: at the end of 2016 they owed him $200 million. He is still the owner.

Trump tweeted “I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, ‘I hope so!'” This even though Clinton in September “I am done with being a candidate.” Hopefully he doesn’t. Does he bother with the news other than what someone says about him?

When asked what kind of rating Trump would give his administration on the response to Puerto Rico, Trump gave the administration a 10. [OK. Stop laughing. You are laughing too much.] San Juan mayor responded by saying Trump got a 10 – but out of 100.
It could take at least 2 months or more for some in Puerto Rico to have power. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he hopes that power will be restored to 95% of the island’s energy grid by December 15. Right now it’s 22%. Some said it could be between 6 months and a year for all. In comparison, power was restored to close to all Floridians a week after Hurricane Irma.

In mid-September, 64% of Americans said they approved of Trump’s handling of the US hurricane response. Now, as many Puerto Ricans remain without access to clean water or electricity nearly a month after Maria hit, just 44% say they approve. {And surely most of those are the people who choose to side with Trump no matter what he has done.] His ratings are down 9 points among Republicans, 22 points among independents and 25 points among Democrats. [That 64% approval rating was the highest approval in any poll since he took office.]

Looks like Trump’s wish to have one piece of good news before the end of the year will not happen. The negotiations to renegotiate NAFTA won’t be completed by year end. US negotiators are pushing for changes in the current agreement that Canada and Mexico won’t agree to. This includes 50% of parts in vehicles made in the US. Trump had already warned he’d kill the agreement and this could be a way.

In an article in The New Yorker, Mike Pence’s anti-LGBTQ stance is highlighted, as well as a joke made by Trump to a legal scholar that the scholar shouldn’t ask Pence about gay rights because Pence wants to “hang them all.” The article also talks about how Trump often mocks Pence’s religious beliefs. Denied, of course, by Pence spokeswoman.
In his speech to GOP donors, Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Pence, served up a dim projection for the midterms: “We’re on track to get shellacked next year,” he said.

With Trump’s decision to halt funding for the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing subsidies, many states had already allowed insurers to steeply hike Obamacare premiums for 2018, anticipating that Trump may cut off federal support for the subsidies. The federal government will have to spend an estimated $7.2 billion more next year because it will have to shell out more in premium subsidies to cover these higher rates.

Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, has withdrawn his name from consideration to become the nation’s next drug czar. This comes after a joint CBS “60 Minutes” and Washington Post report revealed that Marino took nearly $100,000 from the pharmaceutical lobby while sponsoring a bill that made it easier for drug companies to distribute opioids across American communities and thwart the Drug Enforcement Agency. Trump claims it was a “conflict of interest”.

NFL’s Colin Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the NFL will heavily discuss the impact of Trump. The quarterback has claimed teams colluded to keep him out of the league this season, and his recent lawsuit suggests Trump helped foster this negative culture toward him.

In September, the president said NFL teams should fire players who take a knee during the national anthem, which Kaepernick had done since the start of last season. Trump followed up his thoughts with a series of tweets discussing those who kneel during the national anthem and recently stated these players should be suspended. Trump has relationships with the owners of the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys among others.

“Because we’re going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem,” Said Trump but in August that he was on the verge of declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. He never did.

“We are getting close to health care. We’ll come up in the early- to mid-part of next year. We’re going to have a vote; I think we already have the votes,” said Trump. If he had the votes, wouldn’t he vote now?

Even after CNN Jake Tepper told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that by not actually denying [or said that he did say it] that he called Trump a “f?cking moron” must people would assume he said it. Tillerson again said he didn’t want to be caught up in petty comments like this – a bit similar to Senator bob Corker calling the White house a daycare center.

An FCC Commissioner stated that Trump’s suggestion that the FCC should challenge NBC’s license due to their coverage. But in fact the FCC only gives out licenses to TV stations and not a network. So once again, Trump doesn’t know what’d he’s talking about.

A Yahoo correspondent said that Russians who worked for a St. Petersburg “troll factory” were required to watch Netflix’s “House of Cards” to help them write messages that would influence Americans against their own government. The trolls were used to influence the election to get people to vote for Trump by pushing negative comments about Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.

Lawyers for one of the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault subpoenaed his campaign for all documents relating to her, all communications with or about her and “all documents concerning any woman who asserted that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” This comes in the case of Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 2007. The accusations were made in October of last year at a news conference.

Trump’s re-election campaign spent more than $1 million on legal consulting from July through September. Most of the reelection effort’s legal spending went to the law firm Jones Day and the offices of lawyer Alan Futerfas, with tens of thousands directed to a handful of other offices, including more than $25,000 to the Trump Corporation.  Republican National Committee spent more than $230,000 in August to cover legal fees for Trump, including more than $130,000 to his personal attorney Jay Sekulow.

According to Forbes, Trump’s fortune fell by $600 million to $3.1 billion. As a result he dropped to #248 on the American list, after coming in at #156 last year. The magazine attributed his decline in wealth to “a tough New York real estate market, particularly for retail locations; a costly lawsuit and an expensive presidential campaign.” On Bloomberg’s worldwide billionaires list, his net worth at $2.86 billion.

Of note, Trump has two golf resorts in Scotland and their combined losses was $25 million in 2016. They have lost a combined $53 million since Trump acquired them in 2014 even after he supplied both businesses with huge loans: at the end of 2016 they owed him $200 million. He is still the owner.

Trump defaulted on his payments for his golf course in Puerto Rico a long while ago [dumping $32.7 million to them] but then he commented about the territory’s debt.