The senate impeachment – part 2

Well, a true democracy where politicians voted with their conscious instead of their party [or their wallet or job] wasn’t seen today when the Senate voted 51-49 not to interview witnesses or view documents that has evidence.

With this vote, it is now all but guaranteed that the Senate will vote not to throw Donald John Trump out of the White House.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer forced votes on four amendments [including to call witnesses] and they were all not surprisingly defeated.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Republicans’ vote against witnesses and documents “makes them accomplices to the President’s cover-up.”

If there was any bright side [and there really wasn’t], Trump won’t be able to walk in the House this coming week for the state of the Union address and not be able to gloat in his speech that he won. All he won was something that was obvious even before there was a Senate trial. The only question was whether there would be enough Republican Senators that would actually be unbiased. Only 2 changed sides.

Democrats demanding new witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial are seizing on a report that he ordered former national security adviser John Bolton to keep military aid to Ukraine frozen in a bid to coerce political favors. “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens [Joe & Hunter]. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination,” Trump tweeted.

Yes. This is like all the other times he has denied he did, say or knew someone.

“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” Trump also tweeted. House Democrats sent Bolton an official request to testify. He declined to appear — because the White House did not authorize him to do so. A letter was sent on October 30 to Bolton’s lawyers requesting Bolton’s voluntary testimony at a deposition on November 7.

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly says he believes Bolton’s allegation that Trump told Bolton that US security aid to Ukraine was conditioned on an investigation of Trump’s political rivals, adding that Bolton should be heard from. “If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton,” Kelly said.

The White House has issued a formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” In a letter to Bolton’s lawyer, a top official at the National Security Council wrote the unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s book “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information” and couldn’t be published as written.

Bolton’s lawyer notified the NSC last week that if Bolton is called to testify, he will use some of the part of the chapter related to The Ukraine mess.

Trump mentioned that Bolton’s book contained classified information. However, outside of Bolton’s people, the NSC, and the public was the book leaked and maybe the the NSC?

Bolton wrote that Trump gave him the instructions in May 2019 where the conversation also included acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s lawyer Rudy “Loose Lips” Giuliani and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone. Trump released a statement claiming he “never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani….”

A nearly 90-minute recording of Trump at a 2018 donor dinner that included indicted businessmen, Lev Parnas, a person Trump has claimed he doesn’t know. It includes Trump speaking animatedly about removing the US ambassador to Ukraine — at one point stating, “Get rid of her!” Parnas is the Soviet-born businessman who subsequently worked with Giuliani.

GOP Senator James Lankford was interviewed and was asked about this tape which occurred at a dinner. Parnas was chatting with Trump for 90 minutes. Lankford’s excuse? Trump came to the dinner, ate, chatted with a few people and then left. Surely you would remember a 90 minute conversation – let alone other times Parnas was with Trump. Lankford’s other excuse? Do you remember what you did 15+ months ago?

Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said “Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.” Well, when you don’t allow any witnesses who were part of the administration to be called, of course there are none!

Sekulow also said “In the blind drive to impeach the president, President Trump, in reality, strategically has been the best friend and supporter of Ukraine certainly in our recent history. These are the facts.” Hmm. You sure? Withholding the aid [and supposedly not telling them]? If you are expecting a package and it is past a deadline, don’t you call the sender? Blame the Ukraine and not Russia] on 2016 election tampering when US intelligence servers said it was Russia?

Sekulow also said “The transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything.” Read the transcript.

Trump’s legal team continues to put the blame on Ukraine’s corruption for cutting off aid that partially led to his impeachment even though he hid nothing in the two previous years. Ukraine wasn’t corrupt then? They also claim – with no proof – that Ukraine interfered with the elections and not Russia.

Trump’s legal team are also still claiming that the whole reason to for the impeach Trump is to nullify the 2016 elections because just about everyone in government outside of the administration believe Russian interfered with the election. By nullifying the election, they would claim that Hillary Clinton would become President. Impossible. We would like the last three years of hell to disappear, but it won’t happen this way.

And of course if Trump was tossed out as President, Mike “Expressionless” Pence would become President. But the tossing out would hurt the Republicans’ chances of winning the next election.

Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team, said the charges against Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – were not impeachable offenses, which he said must be a crime under existing law. Legal scholars and Dershowitz himself argued the opposite view during the 1998 impeachment trial of Democratic President Bill Clinton. Dershowitz excuse for the change? He has done extensive research since then and has concluded that “no, it has to be a crime.” Sure Alan.

“When you compare that to what Trump has done with Trump University, with so many other things, I think there’s no comparison between who has engaged in more corruption and who is more likely to continue that if elected President of the United States,” Dershowitz said in 2016. “So I think what we’re doing is we’re comparing, we’re saying, look, neither candidate is anywhere close to perfect, let’s vote for the less bad candidate.”

In a 2016 book, the law professor called him a “destabilizing and unpredictable candidate” who “openly embraces fringe conspiracy theories peddled by extremists.”

In an odd statement, Dershowitz said that while he disapproved of Mike Pompeo berating a reporter, “if he can help bring about peace in the Middle East, I’ll forgive him his rudeness towards a reporter.” Trump praised Pompeo’s behavior toward a National Public Radio reporter [see later] as “very impressive” and having done “a good job on her”.

This coming from the President of the free world: “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” Sounds a bit like a death threat. Corrupt? How? Was he paid off by someone? Trump knows this topic well as he is using his administration with plenty of nepotism. How much was he charging the Secret Service to use golf carts again? [$588,000 in 3 years. Yes. Renting.]

Asked if he took Trump’s social media post as a threat, Schiff said, “I think it’s intended to be.” Critics have accuse Trump of using an anti-Semitic trope in referring to the Jewish lawmaker as “shifty.”

White House spokeswoman Stephanie “Parrot” Grisham told FOX News Channel she had not spoken to Trump about the tweet but, “I think he means he hasn’t yet paid the price with the voters.” Same for Lankford. And yet, Schiff had 78% of the vote in his district in 2018. The Republican didn’t even hit 20%. In a “blue” district, unlikely the voters will switch to the GOP. a.k.a. Useless excuses.

Schiff’s suggestion regarding witnesses: “We’re going to let the chief justice make a fair determination of who is pertinent and who’s not. We’re not going to let the House decide who the President’s witnesses are. We’re not going to let the President decide who the House witnesses are. We will let them submit their top priorities and let the chief justice decide who is material and who’s not. That is fully within your power.” That, of course, didn’t happen.

In the question and answer phase of the impeachment trial, various Republicans have sent questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who reads all questions first, but would not read any questions that named the alleged Ukraine whistleblower.

The day before the Senate vote on having interviews and bring in documents, Trump did an interview with his propaganda, department, FOX News, where he raked up 27 false claims in a short interview. Everything from impeachment [he didn’t win 196-0 in the House], lower estate taxes and “Man of the Year” in Michigan, USMCA [“the biggest trade deal… in the history of the world”, 2016 election, etc.

At a rally in Des Moines, Iowa – not far from where the Democrats will have their first primary – Trump said about Schiff: “Shifty Schiff is a very sick person… He lies awake at night shifting and turning. Shifting… Shifting and turning in his bed, sweating like a dog…. “Oh what a sick guy he is.” Maybe he should attend one of his wife’s anti-bullying sessions.

“We’re having probably the best years in the history of our country, and I just got impeached. Can you believe it?” he asked. And what does the economy got to do with his corruption? He then added “They want to overthrow the entire system of government… Today I hit my highest poll numbers since I got elected.” You know that last sentence was definitely false.

He predicted a straight sweep for Republicans in the November election, saying the GOP would win the House, the Senate and he would stay in the White House. Sure Johnny.

How petty. Trump’s defense team showed a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi passing out pens to impeachment managers after signing the articles of impeachment earlier this month with Sekulow calling it a “celebratory moment.” So exactly why wait 4+ days to say so? Doesn’t every major signing usually have the president [and not just Trump] do the same thing?

The US doesn’t seem to like it when another country interferes in their election but it looks like Trump will interfere again in the upcoming Israeli election when he is expected to release a “peace” plan. When a part of it was released last year, the Arab countries easily rejected it [no shock that Iranian backed countries would, but others also.] The plan could give a boost to PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Others suggest it is a way to deflect attention away from his impeachment trial and Netanyahu’s issues as well.

More pettiness: A NPR reporter was notified that she was being removed from the press pool covering Pompeo’s upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. The sudden change came just a few days after Pompeo responded angrily to an interviewer from the public radio outlet.

According to the reporter, Pompeo shouted and cursed at her after the interview ended. Pompeo did not deny that, but he called the reporter a “liar” and accused her of violating an off-the-record agreement. The reporter and NPR said she did not do that, and dozens of journalists came to her defense. Now we know why Trump hired Pompeo.

The reporter said Pompeo also questioned her intelligence by directing the reporter to identify Ukraine on a blank map of the world. An aide fetched the map for Pompeo. The reporter pointed to Ukraine, and Pompeo moved on. In a statement the next day, he implied [without outright claiming] that the reporter actually pointed to Bangladesh, a country thousands of miles away.

And then another NPR reporter was being removed from the press pool covering Pompeo’s upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan as well. The White House gave no reason for it.
Trump “spiritual adviser” and White House staff member Paula White is defending her recent prayer at her church in Florida that “satanic pregnancies” be miscarried.

Even FOX News, Trump’s former propaganda department, is getting into the polls with 45% approve his performance but 54% don’t [January 19-22 polling]. The same poll said 50% should convict and remove Trump, 44% said no.

Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers served notice to a Trump attorney. She accuses Trump of raping her in the 1990s are asking for a DNA sample, seeking to determine whether his genetic material is on a dress she says she wore during the encounter. Trump would need to submit a sample on March 2 in Washington for “analysis and comparison against unidentified male DNA present on the dress.” Carroll filed a defamation suit against Trump in November after Trump denied her allegation.

Trump said in June that Carroll was “totally lying” and he had “never met this person in my life.” While a 1987 photo shows them and their then-spouses at a social event, Trump dismissed it as a moment when he was “standing with my coat on in a line.” [Of course you know that Trump denies or gives an excuse for anyone who accuses him.]

Trump “won” a German poll as the greatest threat to world peace at 41%. Kim Jong Un, Ali Khameneni, Vladimir Poutine and Xi Jinping combined had less than Trump!

Larry Shannon Hargrove “wrote” a song with the lyrics “You are so impeachable to me/Can’t You See/You Lie and you lie, you just lie and you keep on lying” — all sung to the borrowed tune of “You Are So Beautiful.”

Impeachment inquiry ramps up

Andrew Bakaj, a lawyer for the whistleblower who raised alarms about Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine said his client is willing to answer written questions submitted by House Republicans. Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that the whistleblower would answer questions directly from Republican members “in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury,” part of a bid to stem escalating efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to unmask the person’s identity. Trump said Bakaj should be sued. For what?

“Reveal the Whistleblower and end the Impeachment Hoax!” Trump tweeted. Trump pushed the news media to divulge the whistleblower’s identity, asserting that the person’s accounting of events is incorrect. The whistleblower’s complaint has been corroborated by people with firsthand knowledge of the events who have appeared on Capitol Hill.

A lawyer for the Ukraine whistleblower, whose complaint document triggered the House impeachment inquiry of Trump, has sent a letter to the White House warning Trump to “cease and desist” attacking his client. “I am writing out of deep concern that your client, the President of the United States, is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower, and their family in physical danger,” Bakaj wrote to White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Remember how the Republicans whined that the impeachment inquiry was bad because they were behind closed doors [even though they forget to tell their base that 47 Republicans were present? Now Trump said “They shouldn’t be having public hearings. This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt.”

Just moments before his deposition was scheduled to begin, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s lawyer informed impeachment officials that he had been directed by the White House not to comply with the authorized subpoena and asserted “absolute immunity.”

Trump attacked the whistleblower who set off the impeachment inquiry as an, “Obama person,” a “never Trumper,” and “a radical.” To know all this information, Trump must know who the whistleblower is. So why is he asking?

Fox News has told their anchors and others not to reveal the whistleblower’s identity. I guess they are getting tired of Trump.

Trump asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for help to discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal. Trump called Johnson to ask for the favor on July 26 – only two days after the prime minister took office, according to the Times of London. This was also one day after his much-scrutinized phone call to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, Trump told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Barr would contact his Australian counterpart for information on how the Mueller probe was linked to a tip from Australian diplomat Alexander Downer.

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland amended his previous closed-door testimony with House impeachment investigators to say that he told a top Ukrainian political aide that the release of US security aid was likely conditioned on Ukraine publicly announcing an investigation that would help the Trump politically.

After his recent testimony, Trump claimed he does not know Sondland well. Trump previously called Sondland “a really good man and great American” and “highly respected.” Can he say that to a man he now claims he doesn’t know him?

Former US Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker rejected the conspiracy theories about Ukraine and Joe Biden that have been promoted by Rudy Giuliani, according to excerpts of his testimony to lawmakers. The conspiracy theory alleges that Biden held up $1 billion in aid for Ukraine to pressure their government to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, an energy company where Biden’s son had a high-paid board seat.

White House senior counselor Kellyanne “the Witch” Conway said that she does not know if Trump withheld US military aid to Ukraine, but stood by the White House’s response that there was no quid pro quo between Trump and the country. So even she is unsure. Conway contended that asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival is “not impeachable” – except if it was to dig up dirt on Trump’s political rival. She also said Joe Biden is not a top political rival of Trump. Until the Democratic nominee is announce, he is a rival. Makes no difference if he is at the top. He’s roughly in the top three. Obama came out of nowhere to win the nomination and eventually the Presidency [without asking for foreign help!].

Former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley, who testified behind closed doors on October 16, said that he raised [the former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie] Yovanovitch matter with Pompeo three times and proposed releasing a statement of support for the former diplomat, who was abruptly recalled from her post.

Yovanovitch felt threatened by what was coming out of the White House. McKinley did not receive a response from the secretary of state, including when he told Pompeo he was leaving the department.

When asked about it after Yovanovitch testified, Trump said she did a bad job. If she did a bad job, why was she ambassador for so long? Incompetence from Pompeo [we already know Trump is incompetence]. If a person is doing a bad job, the person should be dismissed.

The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry are hoping to hear from Robert Blair, an assistant to Trump and senior adviser to Mulvaney, though that looks unlikely considering Blair’s attorney said he has refused to testify in the probe.

Trump says he’s not concerned about depositions from current and former administration officials in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Yet he continues to bully them and telling those still working for him not to give testimony. A future obstruction charge?

GOP leadership has officially assigned Rep. Jim Jordan to the House Intelligence Committee ahead of the upcoming televised impeachment hearings, a move designed to bolster Trump’s defense as Democrats take their probe public. Rep. Rick Crawford has agreed to temporarily step aside for Jordan, who is seen as one of Trump’s best attack dogs on Capitol Hill. Transcripts of the interviews released this week show Crawford hasn’t been asking many questions during the closed-door sessions.

Trump and other top 2016 Trump campaign officials repeatedly privately discussed how the campaign could get access to stolen Democratic emails WikiLeaks had in 2016, according to newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation. Per a judge’s order, the Justice Department will continue to release new tranches of the Mueller investigative notes monthly.

A retelling of events from former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, who served alongside campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is the fullest detail revealed by the Justice Department yet on discussions within the Trump campaign as it pursued damaging information about its Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. The documents were stolen by the Russians, the American intelligence community has found.

The anonymous senior Trump administration official claims in their forthcoming book [“A Warning”] that Trump officials considered resigning together last year in a “midnight self-massacre” in hopes to sound an alarm about Trump. It is written by the same senior Trump administration official who was behind a 2018 New York Times op-ed expressing profound concern about Trump’s competence.

The book describes Trump as dealing with each new political crisis “like a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.”

After some tweets by Trump, “It’s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him. You’re stunned, amused, and embarrassed all at the same time.”

The book also contains an allegation that senior White House officials were certain Pence would support an effort to have Trump removed from office over concerns about his mental state.

The Justice Department is going on the offensive against the anonymous author, telling them in a letter that he or she may be violating “one or more nondisclosure agreements” by writing the anti-Trump book. The author’s publisher is rejecting the argument and saying the book will be released as scheduled and the author’s agents are accusing the government of trying to unmask the author.

A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s effort to block New York prosecutors from accessing his tax records and Trump’s sweeping claims of presidential immunity. The Manhattan District Attorney is investigating hush-money payments made in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. The ruling does not mean that Trump’s tax records will not be turned over immediately. Local prosecutors agreed to delay enforcement of the subpoena to Trump’s longtime accounting firm if Trump’s lawyers move quickly to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

Trump continues to says he is under an audit. He supposedly has had no income other than his salary for the last [almost] 3 years. An audit is generally for a year, not 10+ years.

There were three state elections recently.

“Our big Rally on Friday night moved the numbers from a tie to a big WIN.” tweeted Trump. Mississippi is a state that the Republicans always win. Was it his “polling”? See a bit father down this blog.

Meanwhile in Kentucky, where Trump won by 30 points in 2016, the Republican governor just barely lost the state. Trump predicted an easy win the night before.

Trump tweeted prior to the election that “Virginia has the best Unemployment and Economic numbers in the history of the State. If the Democrats get in, those numbers will go rapidly in the other direction. On Tuesday, Vote Republican!” – Except the politicians with low unemployment and great economic numbers are Democrats! And you know he probably inflated the “best” part anyways.

In Virginia, where the Republicans had slim majorities in the state legislature and senate, they lost both. The Democrats control both and the governor’s seat.

The Trump administration announced that it will begin formally withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord, the first step in a year-long process to leave the landmark agreement to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases. Trump said in 2017 that he intended to pull the US out of the agreement, the latest move is a procedural step that would lead to a complete withdrawal just after the 2020 presidential election.

The withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the notification. Is it a coincidence that the final pull-out will be around election time in 2020? When Trump loses the 2020 election, a new president could rejoin the agreement, but would have to put forth new climate commitments to the UN. A recent poll said that about 7 in 10 Americans think global warming is happening, and at least 6 in 10 are “somewhat worried” about it.

“I have the real polls. I have the real polls,” Trump claimed. “The CNN polls are fake. The FOX polls have always been lousy, I tell them they ought to get themselves a new pollster, but the real polls, and you look at the polls that came out this morning, people don’t want anything to do with impeachment. It’s a phony scam.” Trump did not give any more details on what he says are the “real polls.”

Trump tweeted that he may cut off federal government help in funding to help stop the fires raging in California saying [as usual] bad fire management. More like climate change and deforestation.

A judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to a collection of nonprofit organizations as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office to resolve a civil lawsuit that alleged “persistent” violations of charities law that included unlawful coordination with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Filed in June 2018, the lawsuit alleged that Trump and his three eldest children — Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric — violated federal and state campaign finance laws and abused the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s tax-exempt status. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps allowed the foundation to be used “as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.” The foundation is dissolved.

Trump himself had vowed to fight the lawsuit, tweeting last year, “I won’t settle this case!” and politically motivated. The attorney general’s office had sought several outcomes, including $2.8 million in restitution, plus penalties, and a ban on Trump and his children serving on the board of any other New York nonprofit.

Magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation over what she says were his lies denying her public accusation in June that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s. The lawsuit, which includes a detailed account of the incident in which Trump allegedly raped Carroll in a dressing room at luxury Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman, was filed in New York state Supreme Court.

Trump said of Carroll that he “never met this person” Except there is a picture of them from about 7 years earlier.

Trump continues to be happy by tweeting that his approval rating is 50% [or better] according to polling firm Rasmussen. Problem is that a dozen legitimate polling forms say Trump is around 40%. Who’s right? Hmmmm. Oh and 49% in that same poll are against him.

A federal judge in Oregon temporarily blocked a Trump administration proclamation that would have required prospective immigrants to prove they would have US health insurance within 30 days of their arrival or enough money to pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”

Prospective immigrants had been scrambling to figure out how to get the necessary coverage, navigating a complex healthcare bureaucracy that has, for the most part, not previously catered to those who are not yet in the country.

Trump was met with loud, sustained boos and some cheers as he entered Madison Square Garden for the Ultimate Fighting Championship recently in New York. A handful of signs reading “Remove Trump” and “Impeach Trump” dotted the crowd. The day after, Trump didn’t address any negative reception he received the night before, instead writing that walking into the venue “was a little bit like walking into a Trump Rally. Plenty of MAGA & KAG present. Great energy.” Sure Donnie.

His trip to New York was just a handful of days after he changed his residence to Florida from New York and badmouthed the city and state. He was me with protesters outside as well.

Trump’s campaign web site is selling a “Read the transcript” t-shirt for $30 [plus shipping]. A plain white t-shirt with red text on the front. Wonder if the t-shirt is made in China like his MAGA hats.

If you want a book that will knock you out in minutes if you can’t sleep: Donald Trump Jr wrote a book. No. It’s not in crayons. But it could be a belong in multiple top 10 book categories, political fiction, science fiction, very young children, bathroom books, etc. Soon to be in the $5 bins.

According to one newspaper the “Trump Organization scrubs name from two Central Park ice skating rinks in a bid to rebrand and ‘downplay their connection to the president’s name”. Yes. That will do it.

So much “fun” going on for Trump

The fallout over the Ukrainian controversy with Donald Trump continues into a second week.

Trump confessed to asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and he publicly doubled down, urging China to interfere in US democracy. This is officially an impeachable offense.

“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called ‘Whistleblower,’ represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump tweeted before taking aim at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who confirmed that there is a tentative agreement for the whistleblower to testify before his committee.

Is Trump forgetting that even without the whistleblower, there is still the transcript of his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. So all Trump would do is basically bully the whistleblower on Twitter.

Trump promised “Big Consequences” for anyone who assisted in providing the person information. That sounds like a threat. What will he do? Use the FBI to do his dirty work or maybe get a new “fixer” to take out the whistleblower.

Then three House chairmen including Schiff said “The President’s comments today constitute reprehensible witness intimidation and an attempt to obstruct Congress’ impeachment inquiry. We condemn the President’s attacks, and we invite our Republican counterparts to do the same because Congress must do all it can to protect this whistleblower, and all whistleblowers.”

“It should be criminal. It should be treasonous. He made it up; every word of it, made up,” saying Trump of Schiff and called former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden “stone cold crooks”.

“His [Schiff] lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason,” Trump said. As usual Trump exaggerates in his comments and doesn’t know the definition of fraud and treason. Schiff is doing his job. Without any opposition to question him, this would be nothing but a dictatorship.

Trump went on to accuse “Shifty” Schiff of having a “mental breakdown” during his questioning of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and maybe even co-authored the whistleblower’s complaint form and even knowing the name of the whistleblower. Schiff’s office denies this.

The purpose of this letter is to formally notify you of serious concerns we have regarding our client’s personal safety. The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way,” was in a letter from the lawyers for the whistleblower sent to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire says, adding that recent comments by Trump are reason for “heightened” concern.

“Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump added. Except like in the Ukraine, there is no evidence of either Bidens doing anything wrong or anything at all.

“The whistleblower stated on the form that he or she possessed both first-hand and other information,” the statement read from the intelligence community inspector general. “The ICIG reviewed the information provided as well as other information gathered and determined that the complaint was both urgent and that it appeared credible.” So conspiracy theories from Trump and supporters that the whistleblower only knew second or third hand knowledge went out the window. Of course they will deny this.

Trump also tweeted “Who changed the long standing whistleblower rules just before submittal of the fake whistleblower report? Drain the swamp!” As if the whistleblower rules changed because it is him in the hot seat. Funny. He whined about “draining the swap” before the election but since taking control he has yet to do so even with 2 years of the Republican party controlling the House and Senate. Does he know where the drain is?

This came from a right-wing web site which said that “between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings.” While the submission form that whistleblowers from the intelligence community fill out was revised in August 2019, the revision did not change the rules on who can submit a whistleblower complaint.

House Democrats issued a subpoena to the White House for documents related to the July 25th call, ratcheting up the Democratic impeachment inquiry into Trump. The subpoena came after the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry separately sent a letter seeking documents from Vice President Mike Pence as part of their investigation into Trump and his conversation with the President of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, a House Foreign Affairs Committee said “Secretary Pompeo has failed to meet the deadline to produce documents required by the subpoena…. Apart from the outstanding subpoena, we look forward to hearing from Ambassadors [Gordon] Sondland [of the European Union] and [Marie] Yovanovitch [of the Ukraine] next week.”

Trump ordered the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine following complaints by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others. Yovanovitch was accused by Giuliani without evidence of trying to undermine Trump and blocking efforts to investigate Democrats like Joe Biden. Asked why Yovanovitch was recalled, Trump said, “I don’t know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her…” He doesn’t remember?

“As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” Trump tweeted. Yes. But not for political reasons such as a potential rival for the next election.

The former Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, was the first witness in the impeachment probe. He told House investigators he warned Ukrainians not to meddle in the US election after Trump’s phone call with Zelensky. He also warned Giuliani that the conspiracy theories he was spreading about Biden were not credible. Volker left last week.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is preparing for his exit from the Trump Cabinet with his name squarely in the middle of the Ukrainian controversy, raising the prospect that a once largely clean tenure could be clouded at the very end. Perry was one of what one official called the “three amigos” leading US relations with the country, meeting at least three times with Zelensky.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chamber’s most senior Republican and a longtime defender of whistleblowers, rebuked Trump when he said the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry “appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

House Democrats issued a stark warning to Pompeo after Pompeo accused lawmakers of “intimidating and bullying” State Department officials by calling them for depositions related to the Ukraine inquiry. The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees told Pompeo that any effort to prevent those officials from speaking to Congress “is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”

In non-impeachment news, Trump suggested shooting migrants in the legs in order to slow them down after they crossed the southern border at the White House with many of his senior staff and those related to the border issue during a March meeting in which he called for a shutdown of the entire US-Mexico border.

From a tweet by Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor from Texas, warned that if Trump were successfully removed from office, civil war would follow. Of course Trump re-tweeted it. But while people may not take Jeffress seriously, once Trump retweets it, it becomes more official.

Wow. Trump has hinted again that a new news network should be started as he is unhappy with the media coverage. Wait! What about his propaganda department, Fox News? Even if he did start a network, unsure if the federal government can run it. How about the Trump Organization? Would that be a conflict of interest maybe?

A majority of Americans say they think Congress opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump is necessary, according to a CBS News poll. The poll, conducted by YouGov, shows 55% of Americans think the newly-opened probe necessary, while 45% of Americans think it unnecessary. 87% of Democrats approve of the inquiry, while 77% of Republicans disapprove, according to the poll. Among Independents, 49% approve and 51% disapprove, the poll found.

But in another poll from SSRS, among independents, support for impeachment and removal has risen 11 points to 46% among independents and 8 points to 14% among Republicans. Sixty percent of those under age 35 now say they support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, up from 43% who felt that way in May, while support for the move among older Americans has held about even [42% now vs. 40% in May].

While Breitbart News web site claims it is a poll and Trump retweeted them, they are not a real poll. First, you have a web site that spews conspiracies and stories that aren’t stories. Then you can vote as many times as you want. So if Trump isn’t getting 100%, something is wrong.

Boy was this one big week…

This will probably be one of the biggest week of the Trump “presidency”. With the exception of an actual impeachment or a resignation or the chance that he manages to survive through the full term and lose in the 2020 election [think he can win}] there won’t much bigger weeks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. This after Trump repeatedly pushed for the Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to reopen an investigation of his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and asked the Ukrainian leader to work with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr on the issue, according to a transcript of the July call.

“So if you can look into it” is supposedly the big sentence that pushed for impeachment.

More than half the House are now saying that they would favor impeachment. While it has [at this point] not chance of passing in the senate, it will be just the 4th time a sitting President has had an impeachment inquiry.

Trump abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up, according to a stunning whistleblower complaint. Several White House officials tried to “lock down” all records of the phone call, especially the word-for-word transcript produced by the White House.

The whistleblower alleged the US officials believed Giuliani was a conduit for messages between Trump and officials in Kyiv and that he was at the helm of a problematic “circumvention of national security decision making processes.” Supposedly two State Department officials intervened with Giuliani in an effort to “contain the damage” he was doing to national security. Giuliani said he wouldn’t testify if Trump said no.

The whistleblower also alleged that the White House tried to cover up the evidence of Trump’s behavior. The report said that officials were told to take the transcript of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky from the computer system in which it was stored to another classified system used for the most sensitive national security information. The move potentially corrupted a repository supposed to be used only for the nation’s most sensitive secrets with material being protected for a purely political purpose.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson wrote that the alleged conduct by Trump “would also potentially expose” the President “to serious national security and counterintelligence risks with respect to foreign intelligence services aware of such alleged conduct.” If a hostile government possesses a recording or is aware of the details of Trump’s phone call, they could use it to blackmail Trump.

In his conversation with Zelensky, Trump claimed “that Biden stopped the prosecution” of Biden’s son and then “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it.” Biden did, however, bragged that he had successfully pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was widely criticized for failing to bring corruption prosecutions. The prosecutor was already close to losing his job anyways.

Trump claimed in a tweet that the whistleblower “…only had second hand information”. But Trump said that later when the story exploded that whomever provided the whistleblower with information about his call with the Ukrainian president is “close to a spy”. Aren’t spies usually foreign? Of course he is also saying that the Democrats are “making up stories” and what “doing to this country is a disgrace.” If they are making up stories, there is no spy.

The Justice Department has said there are some indications that the whistleblower opposes Trump’s reelection, but the complaint was indeed credible. They used lawful channels to file the complaint and get the message to Congress. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told lawmakers today that he believes both the whistleblower who filed the complaint against Trump and the inspector general who handled it “acted in good faith.”

In the hours after the release of the rough transcript of Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky, the White House circulated an email with proposed talking points for Trump’s defenders. Unfortunately for the White House, the email was mistakenly sent to not only Republicans but also Democratic lawmakers and their staff.

The message, titled, “What you need to know: President Trump’s call with President Zelensky,” was quickly recalled – but not before Democrats took to Twitter to ridicule the White House over the error. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already pushing back saying the transcripts probably wouldn’t be released because of some natural security issues.

Kurt Volker, US special envoy to Ukraine, has resigned one day after the release of a whistleblower report alleging a coverup by the White House of a call between Trump and Zelensky. Volker was named in the report.

[Some of the news items below came before the impeachment announcement. Decided to leave it in.]

Trump landed himself in more hot water. This time, it came out that Trump had a conversation with the Ukrainian president in July about digging up dirt about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, Hunter Biden, who is an executive at an Ukrainian energy company. Now if the digging is about Joe Biden, that could be an impeachable offense. If against Hunter Biden, it could still be impeachable [going after a family member].

Pompeo also revived debunked questions about Biden’s conduct. “America cannot have our elections interfered with, and if that’s what took place there, if there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice President Biden, we need to know.” And what was Trump doing? Trump has also long rejected evidence that Russia intervened in 2016 to help him.

Trump tweeted “The real story involves Hunter Biden going around the world and collecting large payments from foreign governments and foreign oligarchs” from information from Fox News anchors. No proof given.

Supposedly 8 times in their conversation in July, Trump asked the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He also threatened to remove a $400 million US military aid package. Trump’s team is now using the power of the presidency to incite collusion ahead of the 2020 election. Congress passed the bill in August and the White House lifted a hold on the money in September.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or Hunter Biden. The then-Ukrainian prosecutor general Yury Lutsenko said in May that Burisma Holdings, a major energy company, did not violate Ukrainian law by having Hunter Biden on its board and paying him. Trump’s claims that Biden pushed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor because he investigated a business for which his son served as a board member have previously been found to be false.

The administration’s efforts to stop Maguire from releasing the whistleblower report to Congress, and its opposition to releasing a transcript, are only fueling speculation the White House has something to hide. If there was wrongdoing such conduct could equal obstruction of justice, historically an impeachable offense.

Trump tweeted that he has “… authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo!” I’d like to see independent verification that there is nothing left out.

Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, threatened to resign over concerns he would be told to evade lawmakers’ questions during his testimony scheduled with House and Senate Intelligence committees. Maguire has come under fire for refusing to give the lawmakers the whistleblower complaint, which details Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky.

The Intelligence Community Inspector General in late August referred a criminal complaint to the Justice Department to investigate whether Trump’s pushing for Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a potential 2020 rival, was a violation of campaign finance law but the Justice Department’s criminal division recently determined to not open a formal investigation of the president for possible campaign finance violations.

Republican senators who have strongly supported Trump were largely silent but Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah tweeted Sunday “it would be troubling in the extreme” if Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden. Media supporters [a.k.a. Fox News mostly] have called the whistleblower a “punk”, part of the “deep state” and a “spy” among other names.

Trump admitted that he delayed aid to Ukraine ahead of a call to Zelensky, when he pushed the leader to look into potential rival Joe Biden and his son’s work, giving the excuse that he was waiting for European nations to contribute their fair share of aid. “I said hold it up. Let’s get other people to pay. And then everybody called me, ‘Oh please, can we pay?’ And there was never any quid pro quo”. Seriously?

Trump had directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to freeze nearly $400 million of US military and security aid to Ukraine in the days before he spoke with Zelensky.

“Even the Ukrainian government put out a statement that that was a perfect call, there was no pressure put on them whatsoever.” I’m suspecting that that the Ukrainian government doesn’t know too much about US laws.

Trump argued at a press conference that Democratic senators were the actual guilty parties. Trump spoke of a letter that three Democratic senators wrote in 2018 to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, claiming, “In the letter they implied that their support for US assistance to Ukraine was at stake and that if they didn’t do the right thing they wouldn’t get any assistance. Gee, doesn’t that sound familiar?”

He accused Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of having “literally threatened” Zelensky during a recent trip to Ukraine, alleging that Murphy said “that if he doesn’t do things right they won’t have Democratic support in Congress.”
There was a letter but the 2018 letter from Sens. Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin and Bob Menendez did not include any threat at all, about US assistance to Ukraine or anything else; it did not even mention US assistance.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that the whistleblower’s attorney has informed the committee that he would like to testify.

White House efforts to limit access to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter. Those calls — both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump — were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.

In a retweet from another right-wing journalist with little credibility, Trump quoted in a tweet “It appears that an American spy in one of our intelligence agencies may have been spying on our own president. The complaint suggests that this intel agent was listening in on Trump’s conversation with a foreign leader. Was this person officially asked to listen to the conversation or was he or she secretly listening in?” Again. No facts, just speculation.

Giuliani first denied that there were walks and shortly after said there was. Of all the people who are in Trump’s corner, how Giuliani is still around is unknown.

Trump retweeted a tweet from Donald Trump Jr who re-tweeted a nobody’s tweet that the Democrats’ letter had asked Ukraine to “investigate Trump.” Might as well take anyone’s tweet as you know how accurate the tweets are on Twitter.

“What these guys are doing, Democrats are doing to this country is a disgrace, and it shouldn’t be allowed. There should be a way of stopping it,” Trump said on the airport tarmac. Yes. Just throw out democracy.

Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway argued that the President was entirely within his rights to ask a foreign counterpart to investigate corruption — borrowing the White House’ s explanation for the call between Zelensky and the US leader. Seriously?

Impeachment starts with 6 separate House inquiries. The results of the six are then sent to a judicial committee in the House who decide which if all or any are strong enough to impeach. A vote is taken by all House members where at least one member more than 50% [i.e. at least 218 of 435] are needed to continue.

If passed, it will then go to the Senate where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will be the presiding judge, a group of House members will be the “prosecutors” and the 100 members of the Senate will be the jury. At least 67 of them must agree to the impeachment. At this time, that is unlikely as the Republicans control the Senate and very few have indicated they would vote to impeach.

Trump mocked Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter after the 16-year-old excoriated world leaders for not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis by tweeting “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

[Yes she came across a bit on the angry/rough/frustrated side, but unlike her Trump is supposed to have experience in diplomacy. He actually never has shown it. She has Asperger’s Syndrome which explains a bit.]

The Pentagon announced it will deploy additional US troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as Trump has at least for now put off any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry. The US deployment would probably be in the hundreds and the defensive equipment heading to the Middle East would probably include Patriot missile batteries and possibly enhanced radars.

A New York judge ordered Trump to provide video testimony as part of an upcoming lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were assaulted by Trump’s security guards during a 2015 protest outside of Trump Tower. The trial centers around a protest in September 2015 in front of Trump Tower in New York City where two protesters wore parody Ku Klux Klan outfits to protest Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration.

“I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before,” Trump has said. One word: Nixon.

Trump chastised a “permanent political class” that is “overly disdainful” during remarks at the United Nations, claiming they – along with the media, economic institutions and technology companies – were pushing ” flat-out assaults on our histories, traditions and values.” Who is this “permanent political class”? He doesn’t mention it.

“And a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, cancelling or blacklisting their own neighbors.” Something Trump never does.

“I have made clear that we stand ready to complete an exceptional, new trade agreement with the UK, that will bring tremendous benefits to both of our countries,” Trump said after a meeting with embattled UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who may not have a job for long. What makes Trump think he can hammer a trade deal in a short time when some trade deals take years to complete?

Trump continued to praise Johnson by saying “He’s doing a fantastic job. Not easy, but doing a really good job.” This after Johnson lost a UK Supreme Court ruling?

Twitter has removed 10,000 accounts across six countries/regions after discovering coordinated activity among nation states designed to spread misinformation.

So they remove Trump’s account?

The US was that close to another war

A military operation to strike Iran over the downing of a US drone was set to begin when the Donald Trump called it off. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said it shot a US drone over its airspace while the US said it was shot over international waters. At first Trump had tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake!” as he and his national security officials huddled. For now, all US and several other airlines have been warned not to fly in the Strait of Hormuz area.

Trump said “I have a feeling it was a mistake” when Iran shot down the US drone, saying he finds it “hard to believe it was intentional” and that it would have made a “big, big difference” if there was someone inside the drone. Is he defending Iran? Her added “Nobody died, but an expensive resource of ours, we don’t have many of, got blown up. We obviously care about that.” So he flip flopped quite fast.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” claimed Trump in a tweet. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

“President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out.” Wonder which right wing crackpot gave him those numbers. 2.5 years into his mandate and he is still whining about his predecessors and what has he claimed to done and actually did?

The US is escalating cyber-attacks on Russia’s electric power grid and has placed potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system, The New York Times reported. It would be used in the event of evidence that Russian interferes in the 2020 election.

But Trump may had not been briefed in any detail about the US computer code being implanted inside the Russian grid. Trump tweeted “This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country…. These [“fake media”] are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Virtual act of treason? Hmmm. We already knows that he uses the “t” word now for just about anything that offends him. Media, Democrats, WASPS, dogs, exercise, … Maybe instead of looking at the “fake media”, if the story is actually true, they should find out who in the cyber ops leaked the information.

Trump issued new authorities last summer to the United States Cyber Command, which is part of the Pentagon and runs the US military’s defensive and offensive online operations. The classified document gives the commander of Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, the power to conduct offensive online operations without needing presidential approval. That lack of approval is more concerning – however at least any command would be thought about thoroughly – unlike anything Trump would decide.

Secretary of State Mike “Pompous” Pompeo has denied the story but said if Cyber Command did do it, he says it should have been done by the previous administration. Not George W. Bush’s administration?

With Trump expected to meet with Chinese Prime Minister Xi soon, “Pompous” Pompeo claims Trump has always been a defender of human rights and will ask Xi about the current issues in Hong Kong. You don’t see Trump and the phase “human rights” in the same sentence as there has been at most a couple of times where Trump has complained about human rights and meant it. Xi himself may just say it is an internal matter and mind your own business [or point to Trump’s human rights record on immigrants].

From Trump’s first official campaign rally in Florida [is there any difference between this and any other rally?]:

  • “We are, by the way, the number-one producer of energy in the world because of what we’ve done right now.” – The Energy Information Administration, said in 2016: “US petroleum and natural gas production first surpassed Russia in 2012, and the United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2011. Only thing surpassed under Trump was crude oil production in 2018.
  • “And in September, just before the election, the FBI told President Obama about possible Russian interference, …. He did nothing.” – Except Obama authorized an extraordinary public statement in October 2016 blaming the hacking on “Russia’s senior-most officials,” and top administration officials issued multiple warnings to top Russian officials. Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Poutine directly, at a G20 meeting in September 2016. After the election, in December 2016, Obama imposed sanctions on Russia.
  • “And not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests.” – Except if the arena was filled up and so many requests, why didn’t they move it to a stadium or put up screens outside the arena.
  • “…no president has had to deal with before, because we did, in the middle of the great and illegal witch hunt, things that nobody have been able to accomplish, not even close.” – Except immediate proof of a crime is not required to make a probe legal, and the probe eventually resulted in the convictions of multiple Trump associates.
  • “It’s beautiful. I changed the design. It’s stronger, bigger, better and cheaper.” – To describe a wall that way and considering that earlier this year he said the wall was being built but wasn’t. And then there is no comparison on the second sentence since nothing was ever built or any plans were made public.
  • “This election is a verdict on whether we want to live in a country where the people who lose an election refuse to concede and spend the next two years trying to shred our Constitution and rip your country apart.” – Even over 2 years later, still whining about the election. Still don’t see anyone from the Democrats contesting the election. The same goes for the missing emails.
  • “And they spent $40 million on this witch hunt, $40 million. That’s right. They spent $40 million, probably a hell of a lot more than that.” – Except current estimates is a bit above $25 million but the US government is expected to receive $11 million as a result of asset forfeitures from Paul Manafort.
  • “And you know we couldn’t get the wall approved by the Democrats, even though they voted for it four years ago and six years ago…” – Except some Democrats voted to authorize 700 miles of border fencing. But the fencing was different than the Trump campaign proposal the Democrats opposed 10 years later, which was for a giant concrete wall.
  • “….we are creating a future of American energy independence, and yet our air and water are the cleanest they’ve ever been by far.” – According to whom?
  • “A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism, and the destruction of the American dream.” – No comments.

Trump also whined about the usual stuff: Clinton, hoax, no collusion, vindicated in the Mueller Report, draining the swamp, overturn the election, etc.

Several pollsters have paid with their jobs after revealing lagging early swing state data that raises doubts over Trump’s ability to make political lightning strike again in 2020. Leaks showed that he is losing in several swing states. Then he tweeted “Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focused on that.”

So he is behind in several states already and rumored to be angry for days about the internal polls leaked to the media last week that showed him losing to Democrats, including Joe Biden, in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. But then he blames the “fake media”. What would his comment be if he was winning? Hmmmm.

Trump said that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has “decided not to go forward with his confirmation process.” His resignation comes amid reports detailing his contentious divorce, which dragged out over six years. “….he can devote more time to his family.” Shanahan released a statement saying he withdrew from consideration after details surfaced related to “a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago.” That sort of contradicts Trump. No shocker there.

Trump then named Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to be the new Acting Secretary of Defense. Unlike Shanahan who wasn’t from the military, Esper has been in the military and is respected.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers voted to halt the Trump administration’s push to circumvent Congress and expedite $8.1 billion in arms sales to Gulf countries by declaring an emergency. Trump is expected to veto the package of resolutions of disapproval and the votes were far short of the two-thirds of the chamber needed to overrule Trump.

Magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll alleged Trump had sexually assaulted her at a New York luxury department store in the late 1990s. Carroll details the allegations in her forthcoming book.

Carroll claims that she encountered Trump in the fall of 1995 or spring 1996 at the Bergdorf Goodman department store, where she says he attacked her in one of the dressing rooms. According to Carroll’s account, Trump sought her advice in buying a gift, and the two had met previously.

“Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda — like Julie Swetnick who falsely accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” Trump said as a reply to the allegation. He said he has never met Carrell. He then added “Worse still for a dying publication to try to prop itself up by peddling fake news” taking aim at the New York Magazine which published the excerpts.

When a Time magazine journalist tried to take a picture of a letter received by Trump from Kim Jong Un that was off the record, saying to the journalist “Well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you….” why bother showing the letter even off the record.

Then he rants “Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in TIME Magazine because I never – I mean – ha. It’s incredible. With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that TIME Magazine writes is absolutely incredible.” An then “Some day within the next 20 years, maybe you’ll pick me as Man of the Year. O.K., big deal.” Except he was picked in 2016.

Later Trump said it was a personal letter. White House sources said it was just a birthday greeting. So why would Trump not show the letter?

In a Trump tweet, he is threatening that “millions” of undocumented immigrants would be deported next week. Now that he said it in public, I can see him tell his fan base that he did it when he didn’t. A day later, a senior immigration official with knowledge of the administration’s plans painted a different picture. “There is no operation next week to pick up millions… No clue where he got that impression.” Well, he said he’d kick out millions of criminals following his election win. That never happened.

Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks refused to answer questions about her time working in the White House as she testified behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee. “The president’s lawyers are directing her not to answer any questions even as we are recounting stuff she told to the special counsel” said a Democrat and member of the panel.

As part of the ongoing trade battles with China, Canada got caught in the middle. After the US requested the extradition from Canada of a Huawei executive [which has been caught in legal issues], China arrested 2 Canadians right after the executive was arrested on [err] trumped up charges. Since then China has also rescinded deals or blocked imports. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Washington to work with Trump on that issue, NAFTA 2.0 and other issues. Trump said that he has promised to take up the matter of the two Canadians with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Japan. We’ll see.

Marc Lotter, the director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 campaign, said that a new Quinnipiac showing Trump losing to 6 Democratic presidential candidates is “meaningless.” He also said their polls are not accurate. I wonder if he would say the same thing if Trump was leading. The Democratic candidates had anywhere between a 1% and a 9% leads over Trump.

“They’re after my financial statement – the Senate, they’d like to get my financial statement. At some point I hope they get it,” Trump said in an interview. “It’s a fantastic financial statement.” He claims he is being asked for statements “they’ve never asked another President for.” Trump has refused to release his tax returns while in office, making him the only modern president to refuse to do so.

From a tweet [referencing that he has 6 years left as president] “…do you think the people would demand that I stay longer?” Again, does he know the constitution? Not the first time he joked [or not] that he wants a longer than 8 year term [maybe in prison].

Seems the new cold war has invaded cancer research. A resignation of a leading Chinese researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at US research institutions. The aim is to stanch China’s well-documented and costly theft of US innovation and know-how.

The National Institutes of Health has contacted 61 research institutions about suspected diversion of proprietary information by grant recipients and referred 16 cases, mainly involving undisclosed ties to foreign governments, for possible legal action. FBI agents are reading private emails, stopping Chinese scientists at airports, and visiting people’s homes to ask about their loyalty.

Oh acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is in trouble. During an interview recently Trump told him to leave the Oval office after Mulvaney coughed during one of Trump’s answers. “I don’t like that, you know, I don’t like that,” Trump said.

When French President Emmanuel Macron came to Washington in April 2018 for his first state visit, he and Trump planted a European sessile oak tree on the South Lawn of the White House. It was meant to symbolize friendship between the two countries and the 100th anniversary of when American troops fought in France during World War I. Now the tree is dead. How do you kill a tree?

The so-called Environmental Protection Agency said states can set their own carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants — a rule that the agency itself says could result in 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030 than the Obama-era plan it will replace.

The move fulfills part of Trump’s promise to help the coal industry. Trump thinks this will help the coal industry but less and less companies are using coal because of carbon emissions and the fact that it is dirty. US coal consumption has plunged 39% to the lowest level in 40 years, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Oh. Happy Birthday Donnie!

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.

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.