Another wicked week with Trump

Wow. Never though a week in Washington could get any nuttier. But it did.

Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is out of the White House. Breitbart, in a report, claims Bannon handed in his resignation on August 7th. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bannon’s departure, but claimed the decision for him to leave was mutual.

Seems like he doesn’t like to play with fellow staffers and has already been at odds with Chief of Staff John Kelly. His job was on the line in April after Trump grew frustrated with his inability to cooperate and work with others. The chilling came as Bannon fought with Jared Kushner, a top Trump aide and Trump’s son-in-law. He also had run ins with chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and other more moderate members. Good riddance.

Bannon dismisses the ratcheting up of tensions stemming from North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity as “just a sideshow” and argues there is “no military solution” to the growing crisis. Trump was furious with his chief strategist after he was quoted in an interview with the American Prospect contradicting Trump on North Korea and asserting that Bannon was able to make personnel changes at the State Department.

Meanwhile, Bannon’s rivals inside the White House and some of the Trump’s outside advisers, including the conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch had urged Trump to fire Bannon.

In a bit of a surprise [considering where he came from], Bannon also offered criticism of white nationalists in the interview, rebuking them as “losers” and a “fringe element” in days just prior to leaving. This after a period of time where he had kept very quiet on things that were happening. This could be the period after the day he handed in his resignation.

The initial plan was to fire Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at same time but Trump was told not to do so from a faction in the Republican party.

Bannon had advocated that the president delve into racial issues and applauded Trump’s widely criticized handling of the Charlottesville situation.

Following news of Bannon’s exit, he returned to Breitbart immediately, who started to prepare stories critical of people in the Trump White House. It’s most likely the site will not directly attack Trump, but will focus its fire on people in Trump’s circle who had clashed with Bannon, or who are viewed as Democrats, soft Republicans or “globalists.”

At one point Bannon said this “presidency was over”. Already Breitbart went after Trump after Trump went after Attorney General Jeff sessions – who is very popular with the alt-right media outlet.

The move also will bolster Bannon’s rivals within the administration, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and top economic aide Cohn. His departure strengthens Kelly, who has sought to better organize a West Wing known for chaos and disorder.

Sebastian Gorka, a Bannon ally who previously worked with him at Breitbart News, also faces possible removal from his post as a counter-terrorism aide to Trump.

Trump himself said goodbye to Bannon in a tweet and then made a comment about the campaign and “Crooked Hillary Clinton”. That is all he seems to call her. Meanwhile to describe Trump would take quite a few tweets to do.

A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting against a white nationalist rally last Saturday in Charlottesville, killing one person, hurting at least two dozen more and ratcheting up tension in an increasingly violent confrontation.

Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms” what he called an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” after the clashes. He later read a scripted page before going off script and talking about how great the economy is doing in the US. Huh? Trump also failed to call it what it is – domestic terrorism.

At no time did Trump mentioned white supremacy and yet he said “on both sides”. The anti-racist demonstrators were peacefully demonstrating. The car’s drive is obviously not one of those. Trump tried to say that these kind of issues were around long before he was in charge. But many are saying Trump himself has elevated the issue by allowing violence like this, bombings of mosques, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and other actions go unpunished.

Over 24 hours later, there was a statement released by the White House saying Trump “condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups”. But it was not “signed” by anyone which eliminates an individual’s responsibility for its truthfulness and often undercuts its significance.

Trump says the groups protesting against white supremacists in Charlottesville, were “also very violent.” Trump is calling those protesters the “alt-left.” He says there is “blame on both sides”. Trump says some of the facts about the deadly violence in Charlottesville still aren’t known. Like?

Trump denounced the removal of monuments to Confederate figures. “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.” Removing a statue or plaque doesn’t change history.

“Before I make a statement, I wait for the facts” was why Trump claimed it took him over two days to respond. Seriously?

“Changing history. Changing culture” is what Trump said regarding taking down statues and plaques. The history is there.

Descendants of both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are OK with the removal of the statues of their relatives.

Almost a week after the rioting and killing Trump still hasn’t spoken to the Charlottesville mayor. A White House representative claim that Trump is waiting for the right time…. Like never. The victim’s step-mother doesn’t want to speak to Trump.

Trump also claimed that the alt-right actually had permits while those against them didn’t. He claimed to have one of the largest wineries in the United States [but of course how many works at the winery aren’t Americans].

Some of the senior staffers in the administration from Vice President Mike Pence and on down claimed that Trump did condemn those groups. But unless they were interpreting Trump’s Saturday’s comments, that wasn’t specifically aimed at those groups.

During the elections Trump was claiming that both President Obama and Hillary Clinton would not say the words radical Islamic terrorism – and yet he couldn’t condemn by name the groups involved in Charlottesville.

Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, defended the president’s initial statement by suggesting that some of the counter-protesters were violent, too. Only after pushed on, Bossert included the various hate groups. Was it so hard?

Trump’s initial comments drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. … No condemnation at all.” The Daily Stormer lost their domain provider [GoDaddy] after showing an article on their web site about the derogatory story about the woman killed in Charlottesville.

But some of the white nationalists cited Trump’s victory as validation for their beliefs, and Trump’s critics pointed to Trump’s racially tinged rhetoric as exploiting the nation’s festering racial tension. Former KKK leader David Duke said the far right and other white supremacists had voted for Trump in the November elections.

Trump plagiarized a racist web site by claiming what will the left go after next? Slave owners? Some of the early US presidents were also slave owners.

A Twitter handle identified as “@MikeHolden42” tweeted to Trump “He’s a fascist, so not unusual.” The user suggested in subsequent tweets that he was calling Trump a fascist, not another individual. Trump retweeted the message to his massive following, triggering an avalanche of replies. @MikeHolden42 responded: “I’m announcing my retirement from Twitter. I’ll never top this RT.” After about 5 minutes, Trump deleted his retweet. Trump has a tendency to retweet things not taking a good look at what they are about.

Someone tweeted: “White supremacists are bad & wrong. There. Just copy & paste this, @POTUS. That’s all we need from you right.” Too hard for Trump.

And what did trump do the day after Charlottesville? Released [already] a campaign re-election ad. Does he think people will like this or that he will get elected? He still has to with the party’s candidacy in 3 years.

A personal lawyer to Trump, John Dowd, forwarded an email comparing Confederate General Robert E. Lee to founding President George Washington, and saying that the activist movement Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups”. The email was originally written by Jerome Almon, an online writer and government conspiracy theorist.

Trump had promised a “pretty big press conference”. Instead he was using a teleprompter so he wouldn’t go off script and say something [as usual] that is wrong. After reading, he walked away. Journalists and historians all agree that a “press conference” is a structured, seated event. That’s not what Trump did. His last actual press conference was 5 months ago.

Trump started the “press conference” by talking about the economy saying “Our economy is now strong. The stock market continues to hit record highs, unemployment is at a 16-year low and businesses are more optimistic than ever before….” Wasn’t this about Charlottesville? Trump almost didn’t seem to feel like he needed to give the follow-up remarks because he had already said it just fine the day of the riot.

Trump condemned the terrorist attack in Barcelona within hours, but resurfacing a myth about a general using pig’s blood on bullets to kill Muslims. In the myth, General John Pershing allegedly dipped bullets in pig’s blood, which is not halal under Islamic law, to execute early 20th century Muslim insurgents in the Philippines. There were no executions and the fact does not appear in Pershing biographies. So he “commented” about the Barcelona attack with 3 hours but not an attack on American soil?

Billionaire investor, Carl Icahn has quit as a special advisor to Trump amid allegations that the recommendations he was giving could benefit his own fortune. Icahn denied it though but he drew criticism for pushing a change in US biofuel policy that would benefit the company. Separate questions were raised last month regarding his role in regulatory decisions affecting American International Group Inc. (AIG), an insurer in which he holds a significant stake.

In a picture of Trump talking to Vladimir Poutine in January, Trump and Pence are the only one left in the group of 6 people in the picture [picture included Sean “Garlic” Spicer, Reince Priebus, Bannon, and Michael Flynn.

In a letter to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook has slammed Trump’s position on the recent violence between neo-Nazis and protesters in Charlottesville. “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights,” Cook said. “Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

In an apparent reference to Kim Jong-Un’s suggestion that he could delay a decision to send a nuclear strike to Guam, the President praised the North Korean leader for his actions by saying “very wise and well-reasoned decision”.

Not surprised here:  Why the Trump administration is cutting teen pregnancy prevention funding.

Tony Schwartz, the man behind Trump’s biography in 1987 and who knows him well, claims that Trump will resign by the end of the year if things don’t improve. But already, some Democrats [even with minorities in both sides of Congress] have started articles of impeachment.

One of America’s most prominent black CEOs, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, quit Trump’s manufacturing council over Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacists saying “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.” On the same day, Trump went after Frazier on Twitter by saying the resignation would give him “more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”. So he goes ballistics over the CEO but still hasn’t publicly gone against the far right groups [at that point].

Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, quit the American Manufacturing Council later in the day followed by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich followed by Scott Paul, head of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Then the president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company and the chief executive of 3M quit.

General Electric, Dow Chemical, Whirlpool, International Paper and Nucor said that they would remain with the council because it was important as the CEO of GE said to “participate in the discussion on how to drive growth and productivity in the U.S.” OK, maybe the like to work with a man who doesn’t seem to care about hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.

Shortly thereafter Trump tweeted [of course] that Trump has closed the manufacturing council and another advisory council for good.

The council started with 28 members and has dwindled over time for various reasons including these resignations plus retirements, replaced at the company, etc. If the council gets too small, it probably won’t be too useful.

Previously, in June, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk and Disney’s Bob Iger quit Trump’s business council in protest of his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Goldman Sachs’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein CEO criticized Trump in his first tweet ever because of the Paris climate accord.

A stunning 50% of the CEOs, executives, government officials and academics surveyed at the Yale CEO Summit in June gave Trump an “F” for his first 130 days in office. Just 1% gave him an “A.”

Then the remaining 16 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in protest. After looking at the list of members, I don’t recognize any except the actor who made the announcement: Kal Penn. [Of note, Penn is on the TV show Designated Survivor as the White House Communications Director and was in the Obama administration as well.]

Senior communications adviser Hope Hicks has been named as the interim White House communications director. She is 28 years old but also shy. Odd for her new job. Good luck to her. I wonder what the odds before she’s kicked out except she is supposedly very close to Trump.

Again, unsure what Trump is doing sometimes. He called Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo to give him support but then he takes a jab at his predecessors, telling Calvo, “They should’ve had me eight years ago, or at least somebody with my thought process because that was the time. Frankly, you could’ve said that for the last three presidents.”

And in more head scratching he says “your tourism, you’re going to go up like tenfold with the expenditure of no money, so I congratulate you”. Congratulate for what?  I don’t think Governor Calvo asked North Korea to point missiles at his island and I don’t think tourism is a priority at this time.

A web hosting provider, DreamHost, is fighting back against a search warrant that it claims would require them to turn over information on visitors to a website used to organize protests against Trump in January, according to court filings first published on the company’s blog. Federal prosecutors in DC are seeking “all records” related to the website disruptj20.org, which organized protests against the Trump administration. The warrant includes “all files” in DreamHost’s possession, as well as information on “subscribers” to distruptj20.org and information on those who “participated, planned, organized, or incited” the January protests.

Trump had also recently retweeted and deleted a cartoon showing a train labeled “Trump” running over a man with “CNN” covering his face. Unsure why he pulled that tweet as he’s hammered CNN in the past.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December, the White House announced saying “The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.” I guess they don’t expect it to be any better by then.

Protests planned at Google offices around the country over the firing of an employee who questioned company diversity efforts have been postponed. A statement on the “March on Google” website says recent one day protests were being cancelled because of threats from what it called “Alt Left terrorist groups.”

The battle of the man babies: Trump vs Un

Donald Trump, his arms crossed and his expression dour, warned “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” But his new chief of staff, John Kelly, sat across the table stone-faced. Some hoped Kelly could reign him in but that’s not happening Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to dial back some of Trump’s comments about North Korea to slow things down. This after North Korea warned that it would carry out pre-emptive military strikes against the US, including the Pacific territory of Guam. Of course, North Korea [a bit like trump!] have a history of rhetoric talk but no “action”.

Critics have always said that Trump’s temper and lack of diplomacy – either in person or on Twitter – could escalate issues and/or be taken the wrong way.

Kelly spoke with Trump in his first week on the job about his use of Twitter, which Trump has fiercely defended amid attempts by other confidants to moderate his voice. Trump has said [exaggerating] that Kelly will be one of the best chief of staff’s ever. Sure, if you want someone who won’t object to anything Trump does.

Trump tweeted “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….” But nothing was ever completed.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has insisted that diplomatic efforts to contain the threat posed by North Korea are working, and remain the favored means for solving the crisis.

As if Trump doesn’t have enough things to get into, he has called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a dictator and had slapped sanctions after a July 30 vote that allowed the President to replace the opposition-held National Assembly with a new 545-member Constituent Assembly filled with his supporters.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser, said earlier this month that military intervention from any outside source was not a possibility. But Trump now says there is a possibility. For a guy who said he didn’t want to butt into other nations’ business [that didn’t affect the US directly], he is thinking of using the military?

Crucial divisions in the American government remain topped by vacancies and are currently run by temporary officials in only an acting capacity — including several pivotal to relations with North Korea. A major Defense Department slot — the Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs — is still vacant, currently run by a temporary fill-in. Meanwhile, a key State Department position called the Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs is also without a nomination. The ambassadorship to South Korea also remains vacant as Trump has not nominated anyone for the post yet.

FBI agents searched a home of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on July 26 , the day after Manafort met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate intelligence committee. The incident happened without advance warning before dawn.

Scratching your head time: Vladimir Poutine wants to expel 755 Americans in retaliation for a recent sanctions against Russia. Unsure if he was joking but Trump commented that the government will save money. Maybe save some money for the costs of having these people livening in Russia but unless they are fired, they will be getting a salary back in the US. In addition some are people who worked on visas as well as business transactions. So less Russians will visit the US [tourism drops] and less or delayed] business deals.

Five active duty transgender service members filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s directive announced on Twitter to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces. The service members, who are not named, all say they have relied on the Defense Department’s current policy permitting open service by transgender service members and argue Trump’s ban, which may result in early termination or failure to renew their contracts, is unconstitutional.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said that he thinks that Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor and the early morning hours may have affected McCain’s no vote on the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare. Johnson believed [from what he interpreted] McCain would vote yes but in the end voted no.

Trump resumed his public feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his party’s failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a sign of the fraught relationship between two branches of government that are both controlled by Republicans. McConnell said Trump had “excessive expectations” for the legislative process and suggested there was a false perception that Congress is underperforming in part “because of too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature, which may have not been understood.”

Anthony Scaramucci says the profanity-laced phone call that preceded his ouster as White House communications director was recorded by a reporter without his permission. Scaramucci insulted White House aides using vulgar language during the interview with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza.

In an odd bit of news, former White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, may have a cameo appearance on a fall episode of Saturday Night Live.

Apple supplier Foxconn, which has announced a $10 billion investment in Wisconsin to build a LCD flat screen factory, has been hailed by Trump as “one of the truly great companies of the world.” But Foxconn has had plenty of issues related to poor working conditions. These aren’t high paying jobs that Trump has boasted. The plant will create 3,000 jobs with the potential to grow to 13,000 and should be completed by 2020. A factory in China cut 60,000 jobs last year thanks to automation.

In 2012, New York-based China Labor Watch found children as young as 14 were forced to work in Foxconn factories by technical colleges or they would not graduate. In 2011, 2.7% of the workforce of Foxconn Group consisted of interns, an average of 27,000 interns per month. An announcement in 2013 by Foxconn of plans to build a $30 million plant in Pennsylvania that have so far not come to fruition.

The Wisconsin governor is to give an incentive package that would award Foxconn $3 billion over 15 years in mostly cash incentives and waive several state environmental reviews. Included is that Foxconn can receive up to $200 million per year in refundable tax credits, capped at $2.85 billion if meets capital and employment compensation targets. It can also avoid paying $150 million in sales taxes on building materials, equipment and supplies. The government may use up to $253 million to rebuild part of Interstate 94 to accommodate the new plant.

Then presidential candidate Trump revealed a little-known episode of personal heroism from his youth, telling an Iowa audience that he narrowly avoided capture in Vietnam by remaining in the United States for the duration of the war. “The Cong were after me,” Trump said, visibly stirred by the memory. “And then, just in the nick of time, I got my deferment.” The Cong were after him? In New York or Florida? Coward.

In a poll, nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote. 68% of them believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted and 73% believed that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often. 52% said that they would support postponing the 2020 election and 56% said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this. [Of course, postponing the 2020 election could result in chaos and probably rioting in the streets – if it can even be done legally.]

70% of Americans believe the federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election in the US should be able to look into President Donald Trump’s finances, according to a new poll conducted by SSRS. 60% of those polled view the probe as a serious matter that should be fully investigated, and a significant minority, 38%, view it as an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency. By a roughly two-to-one margin, those polled disapprove of the way Trump is handling the Russia probe (59% disapprove, 31% approve).

38% say they approve of Trump’s handling of the presidency, according to a new poll conducted by SSRS, with 56% saying they disapprove. 38% is the lowest ever for a newly elected president since modern polling began. Dropped 6% since April. 47% say they strongly disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job, 24% approve.

Among Republicans, strong approval has dropped from 73% in February to 59% now. Among whites who do not have college degrees, a core component of Trump’s base, just 35% strongly approve, down 12 points since February. At the same time, strong disapproval among Democrats has held steady around 80%.

24% say they trust all or most of what they hear in official communications from the White House, while 30% say they trust “nothing at all” that they hear from the President’s office. (Even among Republicans, only about half say they can trust most of what they hear from the White House.) Americans feel things in the country are going well (53% say so), a number that’s held roughly steady since April. He gets a mixed 48% approve to 47% disapprove rating on national security, and Americans are also divided on his handling of the economy at 47% disapprove to 45% approve.

The majorities disapprove of Trump’s work, including on health care policy (62%), foreign affairs (61%), immigration (55%) and helping the middle class (54%). Nearly half (48%) disapprove of his handling of taxes while just 34% approve.

Six in 10 don’t consider Trump honest and trustworthy. Just 30% say they admire the President, and 34% say they are proud to have him as president. 55% say he has lowered the stature of the office of the president.

52% say his tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views on important issues, and 72% say they do not send the right message to other world leaders. Seven in 10 say they too often seem to be in response to TV news the President may have seen, and 71% that they are a risky way for a president to communicate. Six in 10 say they are easy to misunderstand, 63% that they too often turn out to be misleading.

Another poll said that only a third of those surveyed having confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the situation with North Korea.

Another week of controversies with Trump

[This is summer time. You would think things would slow down. Nope. Like this past week, I may have to add a mid-week post as well.]

In the wacky world of this Trump administration, Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, relieving him just days after Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the Trump’s senior staff. This came at chief of staff, John Kelly’s request. Scaramucci lasted 10 days.

Trump insisted there was “No WH chaos!” but in a day or so, he let go Scaramucci. Some are saying the Scaramucci was getting too much attention when he wants most of it. Scaramucci not only lost his job but he may not even be invited back to his chief strategy officer post at the Export-Import Bank.

Scaramucci and his wife are reportedly calling it quits as she has filed for divorce just days after Scaramucci took on his new role in Trump’s administration. Deidre Ball was tired of Scaramucci’s “naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits’ end,” and that “Deidre is not a fan of Trump and she hasn’t exactly been on board and supportive of Anthony and his push to get back into the White House.” Married for 3 years and 2 kids.

Prior to the election, Scaramucci sold his own company thinking that he would get a posting in the administration. Well, he didn’t then. Seems another reason why Scaramucci was in his wife’s doghouse [filing for divorce] is because he supposedly missed the birth of his latest kid. But a divorce could be a windfall for her: his/there assets exceed $50 million. Still, low down on the asset scale compared to others in this administration.

Scaramucci had been blocked from joining the administration during the transition by Priebus, only to eventually be hired by Trump a week-and-half ago. That decision, over the objections of Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, led to the resignation of Spicer and fueled Scaramucci’s profane vows of vengeance against White House staffers who had opposed him or leaked to the press. Priebus was force out last week but it was obvious as he wanted to stay but was gone later on.

Kelly has stated that he is in charge of the White House and none will go around him to speak to Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Kelly “has the full authority to carry out business as he sees fit” and that all White House staffers will report to him, including powerful aides such as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Wonder what Sean “Garlic” Spicer thinks of all this. Spicer was at the White House the day Scaramucci was fired and escorted off White house grounds but only for the “transition” phase of his ex-job.

Trump had tweeted in 2012 during President’s Obama’s first term the number of chiefs of staff that have changed [three in over 2.5 years]. Well, Trump is already on his third in not even 7 months – let alone the other senior staff members that left [supposedly] or were fired.

Trump unveiled a new immigration plan to move to a merit-based system, favoring green card applicants who speak English and can financially support their families. The over-arching goal for this bill is to install a system where immigrants are allowed into the US based on their skills and contributions, rather than familial connections or a lottery. But some of those who enter will have family connections that will allow them into the country. I would guess few current immigrants [who aren’t well off] have connections. These applicants won’t be allowed on welfare when they come into the country. No more of that “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” More like “Give me your filthy rich.”

Stephen Miller, an adviser to trump, claims at least part of the new immigration bill to bring in more Anglophones is based on the Canadian and Australian “points” system – where points are added or deducted according to the immigrant’s background. Extra points for example if fluent in English or advanced degrees or make 150% of the national average income. Deduct points if spouse is less skilled. Interesting – extra points for high achievers such as Olympic medals, Nobel prizes, etc. As it is, the bill won’t pass the senate.

There is some hints that lie detectors could be used to see who is doing the leaks in the administration, according to Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway.

Trump is planning to take a 17 day vacation. But will he still tweet?

While the US has gained about 1 million jobs in his tenure, the US dollar has hit a 15 month low. The biggest gains in jobs were from restaurants and bars – low wage earners.

Trump tweeted “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!” Only thing he may be right is the highest stock market ever and his billionaire friend thank him for that. Unemployment rate is lowest in 16 years. Border may be secure but they are still coming in from Mexico.

Trump claimed 33,000 mining jobs created since his inauguration but just 1,000 are coal mining related [and 100 less today than a month ago]. The others are for oil and metals. As well coal mining jobs “created” in a mine near Pittsburgh actually started 2 months prior to his inauguration. He had nothing to do with it.

The administration may subpoena media outlets but could have problems as the journalists don’t have to divulge their sources [first amendment] but the government could go to court to force them to reveal sources or go to jail.

Trump dictated the initial statement from his son, Don Jr., regarding a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and publicist Rob Goldstone, who had promised the younger Trump dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign courtesy of the Russian government. Trump has claimed that he knew nothing of the meeting until the issue blew up and yet he was able to dictate the initial statement?

“I wasn’t involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the President,” Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said in July.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner offered an explanation to congressional interns why it was not possible for the Trump campaign to collude with Russia during the election: It was too disorganized for such a conspiracy.

Trump is upset because special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, will probably convene a grand jury aiming specifically at the Russian probe.

The White House worked with Fox News and a wealthy Republican donor to push a story about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, according to a lawsuit. The story was pushed in an attempt to discredit the US intelligence community’s determination that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and obtained the emails released by Wikileaks, the lawsuit said. The plaintiff is Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former homicide detective hired to investigate Rich’s death, who alleges that he was misquoted as part of the effort to put the story together. At this time, Fox News website doesn’t mention it.

Trump has reluctantly signed a new sanctions bill from last week against Russia but Russia has already retaliated by telling hundreds of American government employees to leave the country. The bill also added sanctions to Iran and North Korea. Trump said he signed it so the country wouldn’t be so divided. He had no choice. Couldn’t veto and a total of 5 congressmen [House & Senate combined] voted against the bill.

According to a Wall Street Journal interview transcript obtained by Politico, Trump claimed the leader of the Boy Scouts called him to thank him for his Jamboree speech, telling him it was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” Of course, this is Trump. An official with the Scouts said they were not aware of any phone calls between the group’s leadership and Trump. I don’t think the Boy Scout President has his number.

Then Trump said “Even the President of Mexico called me. Their southern border, they said very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get to our border, which is the ultimate compliment.” Except President Enrique Peña Nieto hasn’t called Trump recently.

The Trump administration announced it will waive 37 environmental and other laws and regulations that would impede the first phase of construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. The waiver applies to “a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws” in the San Diego sector. The 15-mile stretch identified in the waiver also includes 14 miles of replacement secondary fencing. Despite the waiver, construction will not begin for at least several more months because federal officials are currently reviewing a protest by a company that competed for, but was not awarded, a building contract.

Trump, in a conversation with Mexican President Nieto, labeled New Hampshire saying “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den” according to a transcript of Trump’s January 27 call that was published by The Washington Post. But Trump was again wrong as he narrowly lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election. Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan called Trump’s comments “disgusting.”

While North Korea tested an ICBM that could theoretically reach half of the United States, Trump was too busy sending out a bunch of tweets bashing the Republicans. [Can I really say his fellow Republicans?] But yes, he did mention North Korea.

After North Korea fired a ICBM, Trump said “We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” but he offered no specifics about what he plans to do. He didn’t do anything when the first ICBM was fired earlier this month. He’s putting the blame game on China for failing to do anything.

Trump threatened to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law. He tweeted that if “a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” Except wheat the government is sending them is not a bailout but subsidies. Unsure if he knew that or used bailout so those with less knowledge would think the government is helping to keep insurance companies afloat.  The payments reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes.

When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, it included a Republican amendment that forces members of Congress and their staff to purchase their health insurance on the law’s new online marketplaces. But unlike individuals purchasing their insurance on the exchanges, Capitol Hill customers would receive subsidies from their employer, the federal government.

Trump also told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reduce the number of votes in the senate to pass his healthcare bill to 51. Doesn’t he know that it was already set for 50 votes to pass and yet they still failed to pass?

Trump’s statement encouraging police officers to be “rough” with people they arrest has drawn criticism in law enforcement circles for sending the wrong message at a time of heightened tensions with the public. Trump praised the aggressive tactics of immigration officers and suggested that police shouldn’t protect the heads of handcuffed suspects being put in the back of a car.

The group Blue Lives Matter tweeted that Trump’s remarks were made in jest. “Trump didn’t tell police to go out & brutalize people as the media would have you believe,” the tweet said. “It was a joke.” Later Trump tweeted it was a joke but most police departments across the US didn’t think so.

Republican Sen. John McCain slammed Trump amid reports [including from NBC News] that Trump is weighing firing Gen. John Nicholson, the top US military commander in Afghanistan. “Our commanders-in-chief, not our commanders in the field, are responsible for this failure,” he added, referring to Trump and former President Barack Obama. Trump’s deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, said the President is confident in Nicholson’s military leadership in Afghanistan. That means Nicholson could be out very soon.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said the Afghanistan strategy would be decided upon by mid-July but the plan has been delayed for months amid sharp disagreements between national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who is arguing for an increase of several thousand troops, and the President’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is opposed to getting the US more deeply involved in the conflict. More of Trump’s “no chaos” here. Shouldn’t he make decision?

 

Another resignation in Trumpland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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