Another crony sentenced

After his former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to just 47 months after the prosecution asked for 19 to 25 years, Donald Trump spinned it differently tweeted “Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia” as the conviction was for bank and tax fraud and not for colluding with Russia.

However, on the counts that Manafort wasn’t found guilty, it was only because a single individual held out on guilty on those counts. [One could say that the individual could be a Trump supporter who knew the consequences if found guilty on the Russian related charges.] But the less than four-year term shocked many legal observers and sparked looks of astonishment among prosecutors. The judge only said that collusion wasn’t an issue for him to consider in the case. He did not assess whether it happens or not.

A judge in Washington, who has been less well disposed toward Manafort, will sentence him next week in a separate case, in which he has been accused of lying to Mueller and breaching a plea deal.

“They should be ashamed of their horrendous treatment of Paul Manafort who they pressured relentlessly because, unlike Michael Cohen, he wouldn’t lie for them,” said Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in a statement. Except, Manafort is accused of lying in the other court case.

Even Manafort’s lawyer said outside court: “There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved in any collusion with any government official from Russia.” Seems for them Russian collusion is way more important than tax fraud.

Trump went on a two hour rambling speech – sometimes swearing – at the Conservative Political Action Conference rambling about the usual: collusion, witch hunt, presidential harassment, Green New Deal, Hillary Clinton’s Emails, etc. Would you want to hear the same ramblings over and over again?

At CPAC, Trump says he’ll be signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech. “If they want our dollars and we give them by the billions,” Trump said, “they’ve got to allow people to speak.” We’ll see if it backfires when those speaking go against him. If so, what he does after. This was because a conservative activist was punched on the campus of the University of California Berkeley last month.

Trump also said that all of the territory of the ISIS caliphate in Syria has been taken back, despite previously saying something similar just days ago. “As of today or tomorrow, we will have 100% of the caliphate defeated.”

During a stopover in Alaska on the way back from Vietnam, Trump said 100% of the caliphate had been taken. An official of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces disputed that statement, saying that the fight is ongoing and that they were surprised by Trump’s statement.

Trump said as well that he was being “sarcastic” when he asked Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails. If so, why does he keep on bringing it up? 28 months later, he still thinks the Democrats will null and void his election win and talks about Clinton’s emails. And yet, there is no way to erase his 28 months in office. He is [like it or not] the 45th president. Yes. It’s a form of fear mongering and definitely lying.

Trump claimed he fired former FBI Director James Comey in 2017 claiming “the good news is that this is going to be so bipartisan, everyone’s going to love it” since the Democrats were angry at Comey because of his investigation right before the election.

Trump said regarding possible obstruction from the firing of Comey “If you use your rights, if you use your power, if you use Article Two, it is called obstruction. But only for Trump, for nobody else.” So there are laws that don’t apply to him.

Trump reacted to a House vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, saying, without evidence, that the Democratic party is “anti-Jewish”. The House of Representatives passed a resolution broadly condemning hate and intolerance, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination, in the wake of controversy over Democratic freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The vote was 407-23. Twenty-three Republicans voted against the measure, and all Democrats – including Omar – who voted in support of the resolution. But it seems like it is the Republicans who are against the resolution broadly condemning hate and intolerance, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination.

A photo published in the Miami Herald shows the founder and one-time owner of a spa, Li Yang, implicated in a human-trafficking ring attended Trump’s Super Bowl watch party at his West Palm Beach country club in February. Yang snapped a blurry selfie with a smiling Trump, who turned in his chair to look over his right shoulder for the photo.

Nineteen days later, Trump’s long-time friend and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in nearby Jupiter, which Yang had founded more than a decade earlier. None of the spas are registered to Yang or her family. They were sold 6 years ago and the current owner was charged with racketeering and running a house of prostitution and has pleaded not guilty.

Trump had pressured his then-chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn to grant his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump a security clearance against their recommendations. While Trump has the legal authority to grant clearances, most instances are left up to the White House personnel security office, which determines whether a staffer should be granted one after the FBI has conducted a background check.

But after concerns were raised by the personnel office, Trump pushed Kelly and McGahn to make the decision on his daughter and son-in-law’s clearances so it did not appear as if he was tainting the process to favor his family, sources told CNN. After both refused, Trump granted them their security clearances.

Trump pressured Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, to tell the Justice Department to block AT&T’s Time Warner deal. At the heart of the theories is Trump’s public dislike of CNN, which was a division of Time Warner, and his close relationship with Fox News. Justice Department filed its lawsuit to block the deal.

While Trump openly criticized the AT&T-Time Warner deal, he publicly congratulated Murdoch for selling most of 21st Century Fox to Disney even before the deal had received regulatory approval. Rupert Murdoch is a close friend of Trump and the Murdoch family will make more than two billion dollars.

“FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump tweeted. But some are questioning whether he is biased towards areas of the country that were hit by disasters but in areas that favor Trump over the Democrats. He was less than positive to the devastations in California [pull funding] and Puerto Rico [blame local leaders for slow relief efforts].

“When the Republicans had the Majority they never acted with such hatred and scorn! The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!” tweeted Trump. So he is already suggesting that Democrats cannot beat him fairly — raising the specter that if he loses next November, he will suggest that the election was not legitimate.

In the unemployment and employment section:

The White House is expected to announce that Trump will nominate Kelley Eckels Currie to serve as an ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. That position, established under President Barack Obama’s administration, had been vacant since Trump took office. Currie currently serves as the representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Lynne Patton, a long time Trump family associate who made a controversial appearance at last week’s House hearing with Michael Cohen, says she has the President’s blessing to follow in his footsteps as a reality TV star, even as she serves as a high-ranking federal housing official. She will appear on a still-developing show about black Republicans.

The latest to jump the trump ship is White House deputy chief of staff and de facto communications director Bill Shine, who has stepped down to join the Trump campaign. He is the sixth to have the job in just over 2 years. But scuttlebutt said that Trump had questioned Shine’s judgment on a number of issues in recent months, from the midterm election to the government shutdown.

Shine had been slated to travel with Trump to Vietnam for the second North Korea summit but unexpectedly dropped off the trip two days before. Shine was wandering the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Asked why he was there, he declined to answer. Dropping from communications director to a senior adviser is interesting.

In addition, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has resigned and plans to return to academia in the weeks ahead. Wilson had long been skeptical of Trump’s plans for a separate branch of the military devoted to space as much of the new organization would be formed from pre-existing Air Force units.

Trump did hire Kayleigh McEnany as national press secretary. She is an American political commentator and writer. She is also a former CNN contributor and a former national Spokesperson for the Republican National Committee.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has ended the controversial phone call record surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden. The program was launched under the USA Patriot Act of 2001, originally to permit the collection of call records from telecommunications providers to search for patterns of connections between persons of interest.

Even Trump 2020 campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany got into the act by saying “These desperate Democrats know they cannot beat President Trump in 2020, so instead they have embarked on a disgraceful witch hunt with one singular aim: topple the will of the American people and seize the power that they have zero chance at winning legitimately.”

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said “They continue to be a group totally taken by small radical leftist fringe of their party and they’re completely controlled by it, they know that’s not enough to beat this President so they’re going to look for other ways to do that.”

Trump doesn’t like to lose even when he wins when three weeks after winning the 2016 election [but lost the popular vote] he said “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” It wasn’t considered a landslide.

Trump said he does not hold North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un responsible for American student Otto Warmbier’s death. He did however later said what he was “misinterpreted” but says he now hold North Korea responsible.

If Trump thought his so called Presidential Harassment is bad now, he hasn’t seen anything yet. Investigations into many of Trump’s cronies, former cronies and even family members are starting to take shape.

Trump tweeted “Presidential Harassment by “crazed” Democrats at the highest level in the history of our Country. Likewise, the most vicious and corrupt Mainstream Media that any president has ever had to endure – Yet the most successful first two years for any.” Considering that Trump invented the phrase “Presidential Harassment” how can you compare it against any level? And how do you measure it?

Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, is suing the Trump Organization, saying it failed to fulfill its contractual obligations to indemnify him or pay his attorneys’ fees relating to his work after he began cooperating with federal investigators. In his complaint, Cohen says his legal bills for the criminal investigations he faced totaled $1.9 million.

Trump claims now that Cohen wanted a pardon from Trump in person if convicted even though Cohen said under oath that he didn’t. So that could be a perjury charge. Problem is that it also sets up Trump that he would have to testify what Cohen had said – which could open up things.

The New York State Department of Financial Services has opened an inquiry into the Trump Organization’s insurance practices, sending a subpoena to the company’s long-time insurance broker.

GOP leaders and key committee chairmen are making clear that they believe there is no reason to probe whether Trump broke the law in engaging in a scheme to hide payments made to two women to keep their stories quiet in the days running up to the 2016 elections.

The US gained 20,000 more jobs but way less than the past few months. Trump touted growing wages, low unemployment and the stock market. On the stock market, Trump said, “Certainly since my election it’s up, getting close to 50%.” These statements are [of course] untrue as the stock market took a big tumble late last year and early this year and is slowly recovering.

It hasn’t reached its October 2017 peak and has tumbled since late February again. Dow Jones was at around 20,000 at the inauguration day and stands at around 25,000 at this time. [In comparison, with President Obama he started with about 8,200 and finished at around 20,000.]

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Trump leaves Hanoi empty handed while Cohen blasts him

Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen will present to a House panel a check to support his testimony. It is dated August 1, 2017 for the amount of $35,000. While the image does not show what the payment was for, Cohen will say in his testimony the check was signed by Trump and was part of the reimbursement for “illegal hush money I paid on his behalf.”

Cohen testified that Trump was aware of long-time adviser Roger Stone’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks in advance of its release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Cohen said, according to his prepared testimony. Trump responded, according to Cohen: “Wouldn’t that be great.”

Cohen’s allegations, if true, would amount to the first time anyone with direct knowledge has said that the President had advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks dump of Clinton emails.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately),” he wrote from his hotel in Hanoi. “He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.” Trump also said that Cohen “did bad things unrelated to Trump.” If you know your lawyer has done illegal activities elsewhere why would you continue to retain him? There has been no mention of anything illegal other than what he did for Trump.

Trump wasn’t too thrilled when Cohen’s testimony was scheduled during his summit calling it a “terrible thing”. But would there be a difference if he was back in Washington other than maybe tweeting that Cohen is a liar, no collusion, witch hunt, etc.

“I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now,” Cohen told Congress. Trump obtained medical deferments to avoid serving in the Vietnam War claiming he had bone spurs.

The New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan has disbarred Cohen after Cohen pleaded guilty last year to multiple felony charges, according to a decision. In New York, conviction of a federal felony triggers disbarment if the offense would constitute a felony under state law.

In his testimony, Cohen said:

  • He wouldn’t take a pardon even if offered.
  • Trump lied about his wealth to look richer to Forbes magazine [ranked 766] and less wealthy for tax authorities.
  • Trump said that black people “would never vote for him because they were too stupid” and “only black people could live that way.”
  • Trump may have been aware in advance of a 2016 meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. and Russians at Trump Tower — something that Trump and his eldest son have long denied. Cohen will tell Congress that he witnessed Trump Jr., in June 2016, tell his father: “The meeting is all set.” Cohen acknowledges not knowing for sure that Trump’s son’s comments were in reference to the meeting with Russians.
  • Trump had told him [Cohen] that the Trump Jr. “had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.”
  • Trump Jr. “would never set up any meeting of any significance alone — and certainly not without checking with his father.”
  • Asked: You called Trump a cheat. What would you call yourself? Cohen: A fool.
  • Asked: How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf? 500 times? Cohen: Probably, over the 10 years.
  • Cohen hired someone to rig two online polls for Trump. He said Trump knew about it and directed him to do so. Both attempts failed to help.

After North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country, there was no joint agreement. Trump left the summit early saying said Kim offered to take some steps toward dismantling his nuclear arsenal but not enough to warrant ending the debilitating sanctions regime on the country. This after he said Presidents before him couldn’t make a deal – he didn’t either.

Trump said he walked away from his second summit with dictator Un because Kim demanded the US lift all of its sanctions, a claim that North Korea’s delegation called a rare news conference in the middle of the night to deny. They insisted Kim had asked only for partial sanctions relief [United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed since March 2016] in exchange for shutting down the North’s main nuclear complex.

During an expanded session with aides, Trump and Kim discussed the prospect of opening a US office in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.

Here’s a shocker. Just before Trump and dictator Un were to meet in Vietnam for their second summit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that North Korea remains a threat. In January, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review stated that North Korea remains an “extraordinary threat” to the United States.

So another contradiction in the administration as this contradicts Trump tweet in June 2017 after the first summit when Trump tweeted “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” Trump has never changed his mind since. When Pompeo was asked about what Trump had said, Pompeo try to spin it such that Trump meant to say that there is still a threat but not like what it used to be. [His tweet clearly says otherwise.]

Pompeo also said that core sanctions from the U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea will be removed only after it fully denuclearizes but North Korea is moving its nuclear and ballistic weapons to hide them from potential US military strikes, according to a confidential UN report.

Trump tweeted that he has a “Great relationship with Chairman Kim!!” Yes. How did Un execute a defector? With a flamethrower. He imprisons, tortures and kills those accused of “political crimes.”

Chefs were still struggling to get a menu approved for the first dinner because officials from both the US and North Korea kept adjusting the menu to make it “super simple.”

Some administration staff are worried that Trump may finalize a deal with Un but may give too much in return. Trump could agree to ending the Korean War, an attractive prospect for someone intent on winning a Nobel Peace Prize. South Korea would have to agree. Luckily this didn’t happen.

Trump also tweeted that “without nuclear weapons” North Korea “could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the World… Because of its location and people (and him), it has more potential for rapid growth than any other nation!” True. North Korea has an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people in labor camps – many for “re-education” – manufacture items and no pay to the workers.

Even before leaving Washington, Trump was giving off some hints that Americans shouldn’t expect too many positive changes from the summit. Of course if there is a [real] deal or progress, I’m sure he will take all the credit.

Dictator for life Un arrived in Hanoi at least a day before Trump and has been given a huge welcome by Vietnam. With Trump and his huge ego, I’m surprised he didn’t want to get to Hanoi before Un did.

Trump tweeted “So funny to watch people who have failed for years, they got NOTHING, telling me how to negotiate with North Korea. But thanks anyway!” This coming from a man with 4 bankruptcies.

Trump said he does not hold Un responsible for Otto Warmbier’s death after Kim denied knowledge of the American student’s maltreatment. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.” This continues Trump’s “friendship” with Un just like his “friendship” with Vladimir Poutine. Warmbier died days after returning to the US from over a year in a North Korean prison that caused brain damage.

The family of Warmbier rebuked Trump for siding with dictator Un, who denied knowledge of their son’s maltreatment during his imprisonment.

Trump ordered then-chief of staff John Kelly to grant Jared Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law and adviser — the clearance the day after the White House Counsel’s Office urged against it. White House officials had previously said that Kushner’s security clearance was handled “in the regular process” without pressure from anyone in the administration.

Trump wants to waste taxpayer’s money by holding a second parade which he is already calling it “one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C.”. He treated it” will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!” In his first two years, he played golf on July 4th.

A major 4th of July parade already takes place in the nation’s capital each year. The parade, called America’s National Independence Day Parade, goes through the heart of downtown Washington.

The House passed a resolution to overturn his emergency declaration to unlock money for wall construction at the US southern border. The vote was 245-182. Thirteen Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the measure. The Senate has 18 days to vote on the resolution. At least 3 GOP senators have signaled they will vote for the resolution.

In 2016 and prior, when there was a crisis in the world where two US allies got into an argument that escalated with a possible outcome of a military conflict, the US would come in and help stabilize the situation. In 2019, India and Pakistan have a bit of a conflict. Where is the US? Where is Trump ordering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the area in order to defuse the situation?

[Not saying he would, but the US could actually profit in this if there is a conflict. Both countries would need new arms and hardware to replace what was used or destroyed. After all, Trump is/was supposedly a businessman.]

Two of Trump’s closest allies on the House Judiciary Committee referred Cohen to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, claiming to have evidence that Cohen “committed perjury and knowingly made false statements” to lawmakers during his day-long testimony. These include that he did not seek a job in the Trump White House, his denial of committing bank fraud, as well as his assertion that the did not have any reportable contracts with foreign entities.

A staffer on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign says he kissed her without her consent at a small gathering of supporters before a Florida rally, an interaction that she alleges in a new lawsuit still causes her anguish. The staffer said she turned her head and the unwanted kiss landed on the side of her mouth, which she called “super-creepy and inappropriate.”

“This never happened and is directly contradicted by multiple highly credible eye witness accounts,” wrote White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders in a statement. Of course, what else would she says? It happened?

In [of course] a tweet, Trump accused filmmaker Spike Lee of making a “racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans…. than almost any other Pres!” Then he said it would “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all.” But it is unclear exactly what part of Lee’s speech Trump interpreted as “racist.” Did Trump watch the right awards show.

Trump announced that because of “substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues” tariffs imposed by the United States on certain Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent has been delayed.

Trump tweeted “Since my election as President the Dow Jones is up 43% and the NASDAQ Composite almost 50%…. We are bringing back America faster than anyone thought possible!” Except the [real] presidents prior to him had higher increases. And “back” from where? Hell? [This was mentioned in a previous blog.]

Since the Trump administration announced it would end its practice of separating families apprehended at the southern border last June under its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, at least 245 children have been separated from their parents, according to a new court filing. The administration said the basis for the separation in the majority of cases was “criminality, prosecution, gang affiliation or other law enforcement purpose.”

The Department of Health and Human Services received more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors from 2014-2018, according to internal agency documents. In addition,1,303 complaints were reported to the Justice Department during that same time frame, according to the documents.

Trump supposedly tweeted “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard.” Hello? We still don’t have 5G widely available. Or maybe the genius thought 5G was already fully deployed. 6G specifications may not even be finalized if it even exists.

There was a Trump look-a-like in Hanoi. He’s Canadian and his first name is Donald. Better skin complexion though.

Trump still likes to cause problems

It seems as one issue he started dies down, he starts up another issue.

The immigration issue keeps on coming up. A new Trump administration policy changed the status of migrants who try to enter the US. Instead of eventually sent back, they are jailed. Any children with them are separated and put in detention centers. Thousands of children are now detained. Over 2000 in the past 6 weeks or so.

Donald Trump has blamed the Democrats for the change but it is his administration that made the change by saying “The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall….” Most are guessing that he would change the policy if the Democrats agree to have his wall built. Blackmail?

Mercedes Schlapp, the White House’s director of strategic communications, said that Trump is “fully committed to enforcing the law” when it comes to separating young children from their parents. Except there is no law – just a Trump administration policy.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said basically don’t bring your kids to the US. If you are trying to escape hardship and violence, why would you leave your children behind?

A CNN poll said that 58% of Republican voters still approve of the separation policy. But just 5% of Democrats and 27% of independents approve. So overall, maybe 24& of Americans approve.

Trump told GOP members, who attended a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hil, that “the crying babies doesn’t look good politically,” the member said.

Trump has threatened to retaliate against any country that slams tariffs on US goods. And now he has threatened China with tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods after the Trump administration slapped $50 billion recently in tariffs on Chinese goods. The US only ships around $130 billion a year to China. So the two combined [original $50 billion plus the $200 billion] is the equivalent of almost 2 years’ worth.

Continuing a bit more on the G7 summit, Trump declared there was “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” a dubious claim following his summit with leader Kim Jong Un that produced no guarantees on how or when Pyongyang would disarm.

New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct over more than a decade that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign. Underwood is asking a court to dissolve the Trump Foundation and wants $2.8 million in restitution plus additional penalties.

As he landed in Washington following the summit, Trump declared on Twitter that America and the world can “sleep well tonight. … There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Trump wrote, even though North Korea has yet to give up any of its fissile material, estimated by independent experts to be enough for between about a dozen and 60 nuclear bombs.

In the brief, four-point joint statement signed at the summit, North Korea committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” – a promise it has made and reneged on several times in the past 25 years. The statement made no mention of verification, despite Trump’s longstanding insistence on “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out that the statement makes reference to a previous agreement that did mention verification, and argued that as a result, the Trump-Kim statement automatically “incorporates” verification without having to state it outright.

Over a week later, Trump still wants credit tweeting “If President Obama (who got nowhere with North Korea and would have had to go to war with many millions of people being killed) had gotten along with North Korea and made the initial steps toward a deal that I have, the Fake News would have named him a national hero!”

Pompeo has said there will be no sanctions relief for North Korea while it maintains nuclear weapons, contradicting North Korean state media who said it could take place “as progress is made.”

The former head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, and former chief strategist in the Trump White House said that he has “never” known Trump to lie or even say something that misleads. [What was he smoking?]

Trump attacked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a tweet over the New York Democrat’s criticisms of the North Korea summit saying “Thank you Chuck, but are you sure you got that right? No more nuclear testing or rockets flying all over the place, blew up launch sites. Hostages already back, hero remains coming home & much more!” Question is what was given up to get those results.

“The denuclearization deal with North Korea is being praised and celebrated all over Asia.” Ya? Where are the celebrations? South Korea is quite happy [no war games and US military could leave].

The New York attorney general sued Trump’s charitable foundation along with its directors — Trump, his sons Eric and Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka, alleging they violated state and federal charities law.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has touted his political contributions as a form of business savviness, boasting that he has “given to everybody” for favors in return. A review of the Trump Foundation’s tax records finds that although the charity has received more than $4 million in contributions from other organizations and individuals and in turn donated millions to various charitable causes since 2009, Trump has not made any personal contributions to the foundation in that time.

Private family foundations traditionally fund charitable causes at least in part through their founder’s personal wealth.

The Palm Beach Police Foundation has hosted annual fundraiser balls at Trump’s ritzy Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, yet the police charity paid to rent Trump’s club, such as $276,463 paid to the club in 2014. Trump has his property in Palm Beach and has donated to the foundation.

Conservative political provocateur Roger Stone met in May 2016 with a Russian who offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million, Stone and former Trump campaign communications official Michael Caputo have said.

Trump said his administration was hiring “thousands and thousands” of immigration judges, that the US already has “thousands” of immigration judges and that other countries don’t have immigration judges. In reality, there the Justice Department’s immigration courts division has 335 judges nationwide, with more than 100 more judges budgeted for. Trump also claimed the United States was “essentially the only country that has judges” to handle immigration cases. But that is incorrect.

Trump also claimed falsely that when immigrants are let into the country to have their cases heard by a court, they virtually all go into hiding with just 3% showing up. In reality, the number of immigrants who don’t show up to court proceedings is far lower and many of the immigrants released from detention are given monitoring devices such as ankle bracelets to ensure they return.

Mexico, Trump said, “does nothing for us.” Experts say the country’s crackdown on immigrants within its borders has been a major help to the US in recent years. Each of the last three years, Mexican removals exceeded US removals to those countries. Mexico is also apprehending tens of thousands of Central Americans before they reach the US. According to the data, Mexico intercepted 173,000 Central Americans in fiscal year 2015, 151,000 in fiscal year 2016 and just under 100,000 in fiscal year 2017.

Deep in the heart of Trump country, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is being met with protests by farmers and ethanol producers concerned that he is undermining the industry with his strong support of oil and gas. Their unhappiness is being broadcast on billboards, at rallies and in meetings the EPA chief is holding during a tour of heartland states. Trump promised to support the ethanol industry. Another broken promise.

Michael Cohen’s personal attorney asked a federal judge to sign a gag order to stop porn actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer from speaking with reporters and releasing information about the case to the public. The lawyer argues that Michael Avenatti, who is representing Daniels, has been tainting the case with a “publicity tour” that has included more than 100 television interview since March.

Meanwhile, Cohen has indicated to family and friends he is willing to cooperate with the Robert Mueller federal investigators to alleviate the pressure on himself and his family. Cohen has expressed anger with the treatment he has gotten from Trump, who has minimized his relationship with Cohen, and comments from Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the United States is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, accusing the body of bias against US ally Israel and a failure to hold human rights abusers accountable including some on the council. This is mostly symbolic. The council will go on and nothing will happen.

[I have said it before: On the diplomacy side, the UN has become useless. Countries on the Security Council can veto a resolution against them, human rights abusers on the Human Rights Council, etc.]

With the White House has even teamed up with a conservative group, the Conservative Partnership Institute, to recruit Republican congressional aides for administration jobs at a job fair. The White House is claiming this has been in the works since April. Many staffers are leaving between now and the mid-term elections, some fearing that either they will eventually be involved in various investigations or don’t want to be associated with the administration.

Trump has spent the better part of a year trying to demonize NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem, and he opened a new line of attack, telling Fox News the protesters, who are trying to raise awareness about racial injustice, don’t “have a real issue.”

The deal with ZTE [recall that they were banned from doing any business for 7 years for some shenanigans] was a ‘personal favour’ to the Chinese president, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has said, and it boosted ‘goodwill’ for the North Korea summit. Unsure what goodwill to North Korea. In addition, this is another fact of the Trump administration: Get banned for something and then pay your way to be in their good graces. In this case ZTE payed a $1 billion fine and had to make changes ib management among other things.

Employment in auto production has declined 22 per cent in the last 2 decades, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said when the investigation was announced May 24. But how much of that is because the automakers are using automated systems instead of manual labor?

Another departure: Joe Hagin, the White House official who orchestrated logistics for the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will depart the administration next month.

Trump’s approval has ticked slightly downward, to 39%, compared with 41% in May and 42% in March.  Immigration is one of the issues where Americans rate the President the poorest, with his approval on the economy at 49% and on foreign affairs and foreign trade tied at 39%, and only 33% of people approving how he is handling health care policy. Almost 80% of Americans support continuing the DACA program, which allows some immigrants who were brought to the US illegally to stay without risk of deportation.

Continuing to really know nothing about trade, Trump claims that a major newspaper [he didn’t say which] said that Canadians are shopping for shoes [didn’t mention anything else], buying them, scuffing them up slightly and wearing them because the tariffs are so high. Huh? Confusing tariffs and duties. On top of that, shoes aren’t aren’t subject to duties when crossing back into Canada – just sales tax.

Note: This Friday’s usual post may not be available until the weekend.

 

Is the US/NK summit on or off? Nobody knows…

Donald Trump briefly called off next month’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, calling the original cancellation a “tremendous setback” for peace and stressing that the US military was ready to respond to any “foolish or reckless acts” by the North. They are still communicating but the meeting may still not happen on June 12th but another later date.

Trump first announced his decision in a letter to Kim released by the White House, in which he cited “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent statement by the North, adding that it was “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”

A top Foreign Ministry official referred to Vice-President Mike Pence as a “political dummy” for his comments on the North and said it was up to the US whether they will “meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”

Considering the comments made [well those made public] were not as harsh compared to their trading of comments earlier this year, was this an excuse for Trump to cancel?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “very hopeful” the summit will take place on June 12 in Singapore, but said “that decision will ultimately be up to Chairman Kim.”

Trump said there was still a “substantial chance” it will be called off amid concerns Pyongyang is not prepared to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Pompeo said the United States is prepared to walk away from nuclear negotiations with North Korea if an upcoming meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un heads in the wrong direction. Or this is a way for Trump to back away with an excuse and lay the eventual blame on Kim.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani said that special counsel Robert Mueller is aiming to finish the probe into potential wrongdoing by Trump by September 1. Giuliani claims that Mueller’s office shared its timeline with him about a month ago and also claims that this would happen if Trump does an interview with Mueller by July 1st. The Trump camp is worried that an investigation beyond September 1st could cause problems with the mid-term elections.

A Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, who was questioned by  Mueller and recently sanctioned by the US visited Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen in Trump Tower during the presidential transition in January 2017. This adds to the questions swirling over the payments to Cohen, which Mueller’s team questioned Vekselberg about after the FBI stopped his private jet at a New York-area airport earlier this year.

Trump demanded that his Justice Department look into whether it or the FBI spied on his presidential campaign for political reasons. “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The tweet comes after it was reported that the FBI dispatched a confidential source to speak with some aides to Trump’s presidential campaign about its possible ties to Russia. According to one report, confidential intelligence source interacted with Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.

Then the Justice Department asked its inspector general to expand its review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application process to include whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

At least 18 Republican lawmakers [and closest allies to Trump] signed onto a resolution calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Department of Justice and the FBI, accusing them of misconduct as Trump campaigned two years ago against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump railed against Mexico and Canada’s efforts in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying both neighbors have been “very difficult” and “spoiled”. Trump told reporters at the White House. “We will win, and we’ll win big.” Wonder how the people will know what a win is considered like.

“There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!” Trump said in a tweet. Other than a NAFTA agreement, Trump is as usual vague. Come back to this blog “soon” and we’ll see.

The United States imposes a 2.5 per cent tariff on cars assembled in Europe and a 25 per cent tariff on European-built vans and pickup trucks. Europe imposes a 10 per cent tariff on U.S.-built cars. The EU pushed their own tariffs on the US. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was initiating an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to determine “whether imports of automobiles and automotive parts threaten to impair” US national security.

Another major shooting in the US, this time in Texas, and very little has been done. Trump gave the standard political condolences. But Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he blamed the tragedies on a litany of other reasons, including abortions and violent video games. Shootings related to abortions? Seriously?

Drawing sharp contrasts with the 2015 deal, Pompeo said a stronger pact should require that Iran stop enrichment of uranium, which was allowed within strict limitations under the previous deal. Iran would also have to walk away from core pillars of its foreign policy, including its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Pompeo’s list of 12 requirements included many that Iran is highly unlikely to consider.

Under a new agreement, if Iran agrees to the US’ demands, the US would be willing to lift all sanctions, restore full diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran, and even support the modernization of its economy, Pompeo said.

The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons resigned last week because of an “ideological turf war” between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner over prison reform. After less than a year on the job, Mark Inch offered his resignation to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week, telling Rosenstein he was tired of the administration disregarding “departmental norms”.

The House of Representatives voted to reauthorize funds for the military a massive bill that greenlights a base budget of roughly $640 billion for national defense in the next fiscal year. It includes Trump’s request to hold a military parade in the nation’s capital to honor veterans. The bill would give a large amount of latitude to the secretary of defense to decide which “small arms and munitions” are appropriate for display in such a parade. The Pentagon would also have discretion in determining “the participation of military units” that can perform in the parade. The parade will “include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks.”

Over the last 30 days, the Trump White House has held only 10 on-camera press briefings — and those briefings have averaged just more than 17 minutes each. Looks like the White House is increasingly disinterested in answering questions from reporters in any sort of structured environment. Sean “Garlic” Spicer, former press secretary, said “The briefing has become more of a show than an outlet of information for the media.”

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake gave some of his harshest criticism of Trump to date in a commencement speech to Harvard Law students, where he shared his concerns for the integrity of politics in the United States. “At all. Our presidency has been debased. By a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division. And only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works….. Well, simply put: We may have hit bottom.”

A federal judge in New York ruled that Trump is in violation of the Constitution when he blocks users on Twitter. A Justice Department spokeswoman said “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps.”

Another failed Trump program. S&P 500 companies showered Wall Street with at least $178 billion of stock buybacks during the first three months of 2018. That’s a 34% bump from last year and tops the prior record of $172 billion set in 2007, just prior to the start of the Great Recession. The buyback bonanza occurred during the first full quarter after Trump signed into law a massive corporate tax cut that was supposed to lift business spending on job-creating investments.

The tax law reduced the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35% and gave companies a break on taxes owed when returning foreign profits. That one-two punch allowed companies to reap huge profits, a sizable chunk of which have been returned to shareholders. Profits had already been on the rise thanks to the accelerating economy.

More than 5.5 million employees received a tax cut bonus, pay raises or 401(k) hikes, according to the White House. But business spending — the stated goal of the tax law — has not significantly accelerated, at least not yet. But the tax cut bonus are tiny compared to the stock buyback.

In one of the few positive things to come out of this administration, Trump intends to sign separate measures in the coming weeks to give people with deadly diseases access to experimental treatments and to provide veterans greater access to private medical care at taxpayer expense.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed at a Senate hearing last week that people he did not identify have created the legal defense fund in his behalf, but he gave no specifics on its operation. Officials typically use such funds to help cover any legal bills for themselves and sometimes for others. Pruitt is the subject of probes by the EPA’s inspector general, the Government Accountability Office, Congress and others investigating allegations about his spending, relationships with lobbyists and other matters.

The Commerce Department informed lawmakers of the outlines of a tentative deal that could save sanctioned telecommunications company ZTE, a key priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping. News of the deal was met with public backlash from members of both parties. The deal would include a roughly $1.3 billion fine and require the company to install a new compliance regime and make management changes. Both Senate and House are considering bills to restrict ZTE and any other company that were found “guilty” previously.

The Republican National Committee has paid nearly $451,779 to a law firm representing former White House communications director Hope Hicks in the ongoing Russia investigation, Federal Election Commission records show. The two payments were made to Trout Cacheris & Janis for “legal and compliance services.” Hicks is represented by the firm’s founder, Robert Trout.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (Republican from Texas) told Judicial Watch that Mueller has “protected radical Islamists for his whole career.” Sure Louie.

 

Fired or resigned? In this WH, nobody knows

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has repeatedly insisted that the White House fired him from his job at the department. The White House says Shulkin resigned. If he resigned, the White House should have his resignation letter.

When Donald Trump announced on Twitter last week that Shulkin would depart the agency and that a Defense Department official, Robert Wilkie, would serve as acting secretary, he side-stepped Shulkin’s deputy, Thomas Bowman, who was next in the line of succession. Given the lengthy process for Senate confirmation, Wilkie could serve in an interim capacity for months should Wilkes want the job permanently.

Trump nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to become the VA’s next secretary, but lawmakers and veterans’ groups have raised questions about whether or not he has the right experience to lead the government’s second largest bureaucracy. [Will the chief janitor at the White House be the next secretary in charge of infrastructure?] There are allegations about nominee Jackson’s questionable behavior including excessive drinking [even on the job], overprescribing drugs and a “toxic” work environment under his leadership. Hearings into Jackson’s appointment has been delayed because of the allegations.

Jackson drunkenly banged on a woman’s hotel door on an overseas trip and was known as “the candy man” inside the White House, according to a senator.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders defended Jackson’s experience calling him a “very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and the medical community.” Sanders suggested that Jackson’s current position as the White House physician meant that he had been more thoroughly vetted than other Cabinet nominees.

But in the end, Jackson withdrew his nomination. Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as “completely false and fabricated.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee have voted against Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state which would lead the committee to report out his nomination without a favorable recommendation. Pompeo may still have enough votes to barely get approved for the position as one Democrat had agreed to vote in his favor.

Trump tweeted “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before.” Hello. There is something called democracy. What Trump is saying is vote for someone who may or may not be appropriate for the job.

Remember the individual who as seeking some legal job in the government and yet never tried a case or knew some basic terminology?

Trump’s pick to replace Pompeo leading the CIA, Gina Haspel, isn’t scheduled to have her confirmation hearing until May 9, but late last week the agency declassified an internal memo that absolves Haspel of responsibility for destroying videotapes showing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005, an issue that’s been a key sticking point for senators weighing her confirmation.

In the end, the Senate approved Pompeo’s nomination as the next secretary of state on Thursday, installing the former CIA Director as the nation’s top diplomat at a time when several high stakes negotiations are underway around the globe. With a 57-42 vote, Trump can’t whine about the lack of Democrats approving. Just days before Trump tweeted [of course] “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people….”

Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations. Trump said the Moscow trip was so quick that his head never hit a pillow — even for one night.

Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas in the morning of November 8, 2014 and landed at Vnukovo airport early morning. He attended a birthday part of Miss Universe pageant’s host and developer Aras Agalarov followed by the pageant and after-party. Trump even tweeted “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place!”

Trump acknowledged for the first time that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is representing him with regards to legal matters involving Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump. The revelation came after Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in the matter. Cohen filed court papers indicating he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the Daniels case. The case has been put on hold for 90 days.

Trump distanced himself from his personal attorney, whom Trump said has overseen “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. If so, the President may have inadvertently boosted the arguments of prosecutors who have said that communications between the two men shouldn’t be considered confidential under attorney-client privilege provisions.

Prosecutors have argued in federal court that because Cohen has few clients and has done little legal work, there wouldn’t be a lot of privileged information in documents seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Trump insists he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling but “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration. Part of chief of staff John Kelly’s job was to restrict who Trump contacts and who contacts him. Now by using his cell phone, he is bypassing Kelly. Maybe even to push Kelly out or at least Trump doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.

Trump said North Korean dictator “Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing.” The same man he berated by calling him “Little Rocket Man”. Honorable? Him and his father have consistently broke deals that were approved by all parties. Trump has threatened to deliver “fire and fury” upon North Korea and taunted Kim Jung Un on Twitter that his nuclear “button” was larger than the one in Pyongyang.

Sanders said that the US goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would probably accept not developing any new nuclear weapons but not accept losing the weapons they currently have.

Republicans won the special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, but once again Democrats have over performed in a deep red district, in another sign the national environment is in the their favor. Republican Debbie Lesko won over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni by about a 5-point margin. But in 2016, Trump won by a 21 point margin.

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Republican Debbie Lesko on her big win in the Special Election for Arizona House seat. Debbie will do a Great Job! Press is so silent.” Press wasn’t silent – more like Lesko was expected to win in a safe seat. Was only a big win because she could of easily lost if there was a scandal [like Roy Moore] but she was clean.

Trump tweeted ” Arizona, please get out today and vote @DebbieLesko for Congress in #AZ08. Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime. Great on the Military….” That sounds like what he wants, not what she is running for. Surprised no Trump Wall mentioned or it would be obvious it was what he wants.

Is Trump plagiarizing himself? In another tweet, he said “@MarshaBlackburn is a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.” Look at the previous tweet quote.

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must resume DACA, a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. It would also require the administration to accept requests from first-time applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

After Kanye West launched an ongoing series of tweets about his admiration of Donald Trump calling him “my brother”, he sort of retracted by saying “I don’t agree with everything Trump does.” However, he did get his hat signed. Trump then tweeted “Kanye West has performed a great service to the Black Community.” Like what service?

Trump tweeted “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” Maybe either because of your comments or the fact that sporting events and politics shouldn’t mix or maybe because soccer [football] is bigger elsewhere.

Trump tweeted “Kim Strassel of the WSJ just said, after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel? There’s no there there.’ Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!” Are they [practicing] lawyers? Probably just Trump loving reporters.

Trump admitted on Fox News that he’s been too busy to get a birthday gift for his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who turned 48 years old this week. Trump added that he did get the first lady “a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers.” [Of course actually bought by someone else. Did he actually pay?]

Trump tweeted “I would rather deal just with France. The [European] Union is very tough for us. They have trade barriers that are unacceptable.” Is there anything acceptable to him?

As part of the fallout from Trump’s tariff increases on steel and aluminum, prices for everything from razor blades to pop/soda will be increasing up to 30% this year.

A former Cambridge Analytica director claims that during the 2016 election campaign, the company had exclusive access to user data from breitbart.com – former chief of staff Stephen Bannon’s web site.

The Washington Post reported that only two companies still sell Trump-branded products, down from 19 listed by Trump in 2015. A Trump cologne, one of his few remaining items, costs $9.99 an ounce, marked down from $42.

Canadian singer Shania Twain “apologize to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian” where she said she would of voted for Trump if she was an American.

“I can die happy now with Trump Job performance,” stated Mary Matalin and tweeted by Trump. “A great overall President, stunning!” Of course she works with the Republican Party. If he was doing so well, wouldn’t these comments be more often?

Watch out for the crackpot from the North

Unsure if you heard about this one.

Current dictator for life/despot of North Korea has been making plenty of noise since he took over as chief nutcase of North Korea. He put the world on alert with his ramblings about nuking various countries [of course the US at the top of the list even though a missile from North Korea can’t hit the US]. Even [fairly] friendly countries to North Korea [and there are very few] such as China were dumb struck.

Now the word is out that 12 North Korea were executed in August by machine gun for supposedly violating laws against pornography.

What is interesting is that included in the twelve is dictator Kim Jong Un’s ex-lover, who was part of the same “patriotic” band as Kim Jung Un’s wife. Most of the band [which includes singers, dancers and musicians] itself was also executed as well as another band.

They were also found to have bibles and treated as political dissidents. Some others believe that Kim Jung Un’s ex-lover and others were executed because they may be supporting a rival faction in North Korean politics.

Family members of those who were executed were forced to watch the executions before they themselves were sent off to labour camps.

It seems Kim Jung Un’s father, Kim Jung Il, disapproved of the relationship with his ex-lover [they met about ten years ago] and Kim Jung Un’s wife may have pressured him to get rid of her to make sure she had him to herself. Nice.

It is up there as some of the nastiest things he has done such as dumped his step-mother from her post as senior officer in a party department or executed a vice-minister of the army by blowing him up with a mortar so that no trace of the vice-minister would be found. The vice-minister was reportedly drinking as well as “carousing” during the official mourning period of Kim Jong Il.

This is reminding me of Cambodia all over again.