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.

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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?

Trump fires two in one week – for now a first

You know that for every week, there has to be at least one major bombshell. It is sort of like a law.

Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and said he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him, ending Tillerson’s difficult tenure by tweeting an ouster that had been long expected and yet was shocking in its abruptness.

The writing was probably on the wall when Trump announced the potential meeting with Kim Jun Un and Tillerson new nothing about it. The two had their differences in polities and Tillerson supposedly called Trump a “moron” at one point.

Trump said he was nominating the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. Pompeo may surely approved in the senate as he was already confirmed for CIA director as the confirmation will be in April. Haspel may have an issue because she ran a secret prison in the Middle East where she approved the use of waterboarding in 2002. Trump has previously said he supports waterboarding.

Haspel, first woman nominated as CIA director, also helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos. That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.

How was Tillerson fired? Trump asked Chief of Staff John Kelley to call Rex Tillerson on Friday night. Kelly told Tillerson that he will be replaced but did not specify the timing. Trump tweeted the firing Tuesday morning. “This is how the President wanted to do it,” said a senior White House official.

Just after Tillerson’s sudden firing, American diplomats at posts spanning the globe were surprised to receive guidance from Washington telling them not to post or retweet the statement from Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein on how Tillerson was fired by Trump.

Goldstein said Tillerson found out he was fired that morning in a tweet from Trump; Goldstein himself was then fired after that statement conflicted with the White House’s official line that Tillerson was notified by Kelly three days earlier in a late-night phone call.

“There was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State,” Trump tweeted as he fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Well Attorney General Jeff Sessions did the actual firing, but you know who really did it. McCabe was set to officially retire on March 18, but he will lose his pension after a more than two-decade career at the bureau. He was out just under 48 hours before his retirement. That would be typical of this administration.

His dismissal was recommended by a panel of career disciplinary officials [FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility] at the bureau after they found he had shown a lack of candor under oath, a career killing lapse for any FBI officer. The issue stems from findings in an internal Justice Department watchdog report that claims he misled investigators about his decision to authorize FBI officials to speak to the media about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Revelations that McCabe had both kept [fired FBI Director James] Comey-style memos of his conversations with Trump, and that McCabe had been interviewed by the special counsel’s team, stoked new intrigue around the question of whether Trump obstructed justice by firing his first FBI director, who was leading the inquiry into whether his campaign colluded with Russia.

“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally,” McCabe said. “It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation [Robert Mueller], which continue to this day.”

Trump’s attorney John Dowd called for the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling. Dowd said he was speaking on his own behalf, although he had earlier told the Daily Beast, which first reported the statement, that he was speaking on behalf of Trump. Now they are saying Dowd’s comment wasn’t authorized by Trump. If Trump did authorize the comment, he could be in trouble for interfering with the investigation.

As if this isn’t enough, Trump has apparently grown sick of H.R. McMaster and is preparing to jettison his national security adviser in the not-too-distant future. Stories came out late in the week that Trump wants him out and already has someone waiting to take his place in John Bolton. Unlike Tillerson, who was fired through a tweet, is this better? Waiting to be fired? Or maybe Trump wants McMaster to do the honorable thing and resign [or fall on his sword like a 3 star general should].

Bolton is known as an architect of the Iraq War, an enemy of multilateralism and foe of the United Nations, where he served during the George W. Bush administration through a recess appointment when he could not win Senate confirmation. He is also a harsh critic of the Iran nuclear deal and of North Korea, and is seen as someone who might promote conflict in both cases.

With Tillerson gone there are still potentially up to 8 in the cabinet [including McMaster] who could be fired. Trump has hinted for some major changes. And yet he said back in October that he was very happy he was with the cabinet he selected.

Trump’s personal aide Johnny McEntee was also fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes which caused problems in getting a security clearance. But the Trump campaign announced McEntee would be joining the reelection effort as a senior adviser for campaign operations. So they hire crooks in the campaign?

Trump addressed UK PM Theresa May’s comments that it is “highly likely” Russia poisoned a former spy, saying if it is fact “we will condemn Russia.” So meanwhile, not surprising, he’s siding with Russia. But UN Ambassador Nikki Haley ignored Trump and went with a scathing speech at the UN going after Russia.

Only days later, Trump is asked about the spy poisoning: “It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it”. So after Haley said so at the UN, Trump finally caved in and admitted it.

The Trump administration announced it is enacting new sanctions on Russia, including individuals indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, in a sweeping new effort to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election. The measures come a month-and-a-half after the administration missed a congressionally mandated deadline to impose the new sanctions.

The Trump administration has accused Russia of remotely targeting the US power grid, as part of its newly unveiled sanctions on the country. It also included sanctions on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that produced divisive political posts on American social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election. Russia has attempted to attack targets that include “energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors” since March 2016 said the Department of Homeland Security.

Raise your hand if you are surprised ion this bit of news: The Trump administration backpedaled on the idea of increasing the minimum age to buy certain firearms — a policy Trump had said he would support. But at least they are still providing some school personnel with “rigorous” firearms training and backed a bill to improve criminal background checks. The NRA has filed a lawsuit claiming that a Florida law violates 2 amendments. Is the administration nervous they could be next?

In not so good news for the Republicans, Democrat candidate Conor Lamb has squeaked out a slim majority win in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. This was a district won by Trump by 20 points in the last election. The Republicans and White House claimed they had a “weak candidate” in Rick Saccone. Notice they said this after he lost. [So basically they are running Saccone over with a bus a few times followed by a steamroller for good measure.] Here’s a crackpot. The losing Saccone says his political opponents hate Trump, America and God.

Do you think Trump’s popularity had anything to do with the loss? Nah. Just a thought. Surely he won’t take any blame in the loss. Even if Saccone would of won by a slim majority, it wouldn’t be good. The Republicans are also saying they aren’t nervous as it is just one loss. They still have a huge majority. Sure. Trump even claims that Lamb won because Lamb is like him. Sure.

At an event in Pennsylvania supporting Saccone, Trump touted his role in South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, claiming credit for temporarily reducing the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. “It’s little hard to sell tickets when you think you’re going to be nuked,” he said. Problem is that he had nothing to do with North Korea joining the Olympics.

At the same event, Trump claims that it was he who got North Korea to join talks with him when in fact South Korea got them together.

Trying to get some kind of win, Trump may soften his stance to get the NAFTA deal renegotiated before July 1st when Mexico has their elections. Otherwise than man behind “The Art of a Deal” will look like [another] failure. He has also hinted that he may try to join the Trans Pacific Partnership – the same trade deal he left right after taking office.

Trump boasted at a private fundraiser of making up trade claims [no surprise there] during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before knowing whether they were true. Trump claimed they had a deficit but according to figures provided by the Commerce Department, the US ran a $2.77 billion surplus with Canada for 2017.

During the fundraiser, Trump also reportedly called the North American Free Trade Agreement a disaster and blamed the World Trade Organization for allowing other nations to box in the US on trade. Trump mocked other politicians for supporting NAFTA, attacking Mexico as “spoiled” and arguing that Canada had outsmarted the US.

Now it seems porn star Stormy Daniels has faced physical threats for going after Trump according to her lawyer. Her lawyer also said that six additional women have come forward alleging sexual relationships with Trump — including some he says who also claim to have nondisclosure agreements. Her lawyer alleges also that some of the accusations she’s making against Trump occurred while Trump was in office.

Trump accused Japan of using a “bowling ball test” to cheat US auto companies out of selling cars to Japanese consumers. The test is when a bowling ball is dropped to the hood of the car, if dents, fails.

Facebook has announced it is suspending Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, over concerns about violations of the social media site’s policies. Facebook claimed a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, had passed Facebook user data he gained through an app on to third-parties, including Cambridge Analytica.

A poll of leading economists from the University of Chicago has found rare unanimity on the topic, with a newly released survey showing that zero per cent of economists surveyed believe tariffs will help Americans.

Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, someone who has little experience in this field, stumbled her way through a tense interview, struggling to answer some basic questions about schools in her home state of Michigan and admitting that she does not “intentionally” visit underperforming schools. Biased? Not doing her job?

Russian President [for life] Vladimir Poutine, in an interview on NBC, suggests that Jews or Tatars or other minorities in Russia were behind the alleged election meddling in 2016. Maybe they were paid by Americans or maybe on their own. No proof of course. And while just about everyone in congress condemned the comments, one individual didn’t. Take a guess who?

Trump’s approval rating in a new poll conducted by SSRS stands at 35%, down five points over the last month to match his lowest level yet. Overall, 80% of self-identified Republicans say they approve of Trump, one point below his previous low mark of 81%, hit in late September of last year. Just 13% of Republicans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance. Approval for the President stands at just 5% among Democrats and 35% among independents.

Almost three-quarters (72%) say they are concerned about foreign government interference in US elections generally, including 90% of Democrats, 68% of independents and 53% of Republicans, and 60% say they are not confident the president is doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future American elections, according to a new poll conducted by SSRS.

Hundreds of parishioners gathered at a Pennsylvania church got married Wednesday holding AR-15s as church members say the ceremony was scheduled months before the Parkland shooting, and they were following God’s will to honor the Second Amendment. Guns were zip-tied at the door and ammunition was not allowed in the church.