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”.

 

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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.

 

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.”