Trump thinks NK deal still alive, meanwhile Pruitt departs

Donald Trump tweets that “All of Asia is thrilled” that North Korea has halted missile testing and only the “Opposition Party” Democrats, including the “Fake News” is complaining. Halt testing missiles but judging by the recent satellite photos, they are still doing work on them. How does the media doctor photos from his own administration and display them?

Trump also claims “If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!” Let’s see. If anything the US and North Korea were closer to war than probably any of the past few administrations. Did North Korea fire missiles towards Japan or elsewhere prior to this administration? Or fire missiles that often?

Experts say there is no proof North Korea’s halt of nuclear and missile tests means the North will take concrete steps to give up such weapons. They also say the U.S. has an unrealistic approach to North Korea’s denuclearization.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned [or maybe he was fired] amid ethics investigations of outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease.

Pruitt, at one point, directly appealed to Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let him run the Department of Justice instead. In an Oval Office conversation with Trump, Pruitt offered to temporarily replace Sessions for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act, telling Trump he would return to Oklahoma afterward to run for office.

Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry executive, will assume the acting administrator position. Poor guy. He was a lobbyist and a lawyer.

The federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 gives the President the authority to temporarily fill a vacancy at a federal agency if the official “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” Obviously Sessions didn’t die or resign and is able to do his functions and duties. So good luck there Scott!

With the way Pruitt has handled his own department [see below] – let alone his own life – I am sure Trump did the right thing [for once] and turned him down. Hopefully after Pruitt left, trump had a good laugh. I know I would of.

Meanwhile, Pruitt and his aides have kept “secret” calendars and schedules to overtly hide controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives and others, according to a former EPA official who is expected to soon testify before Congress. A review of EPA documents found discrepancies between Pruitt’s official calendar and other records.

Everything that was spent by him during his tenure hit over $4 million.

Trump had told Republicans in Congress recently to stop wasting their time on immigration until after November’s elections, but now Trump is insisting that Congress “FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!” Then he said “When people, with or without children, enter our Country, they must be told to leave … just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn.”

At a rally, Trump mocked the #MeToo movement as he repeatedly attacked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her heritage by saying “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you. I apologize to you. To you I apologize,” he said. “To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.” He has called Warren Pocahontas a few times previously. And if she won the Democratic nomination for 2020 he would ask her to take a DNA test to prove she has Native American blood in her. Like a true racist he used the word “Indian” in his further comments.

Not surprise, Trump also defended Republican candidate Rep. Jim Jordan against allegations he overlooked sexual abuse during his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.

Trump continued a long running fight with California Rep. Maxine Waters by saying “… honestly she is somewhere in the mid-60s.”

Trump then attacked, without naming him, Arizona Sen. John McCain for voting against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and he mocked President George H.W. Bush’s slogan during his rally.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has applied for permission to hire originally 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters and cooks during the winter social season in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s club has asked to hire another 21 who would be cooks from overseas and employ them from October to May.

The postings show that – despite Trump’s insistence that immigration is holding down wages and crowding out native-born American workers – his club believes it cannot find any Americans in South Florida who are qualified to hold two very common restaurant-industry jobs. Mar-a-Lago’s pay for cooks starts at $13.31 per hour, down 3 cents from the year before. The base salary his club is offering to waiters is higher in 2018: It rose from $11.88 per hour last year to $12.68 per hour this year.

Trump appeared to rely on a dubious Fox News report to unleash an attack on his predecessor, accusing President Barack Obama, without any real evidence, of granting citizenship to 2,500 Iranians as part of nuclear deal negotiations. Fox News’ website cited an Iranian news agency that cited an Iranian newspaper that quoted the single Iranian cleric who is also a member of the country’s parliament.

In a whacky bit of news, at a meeting in August 2017 in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the US just simply invade the troubled country? The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.

Breaking with their House Republican counterparts, the Senate Intelligence Committee said that the intelligence community properly concluded in January of last year that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help Donald Trump when Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand. He is making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually.

Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-then-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months. The special counsel’s charter, issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, includes investigating whether Trump or associates colluded with Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

The White House announced that former Fox News president Bill Shine has been appointed as the White House’s new Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Shine was one of Roger Ailes [the former chairman of the Fox News Channel] deputies for years. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds.

Trump is demanding that Norway ramp up its defense spending as a NATO partner, according to a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The letter was one of a series that Trump sent to NATO allies, including Germany, Belgium, Canada and others, demanding they boost spending and threatening to shift the US military presence in Europe if they do not.

According to a report, a draft of a bill from the Trump administration would propose having the US abandon key World Trade Organization principles and offer Trump significantly more discretion over US trade policy. The proposal would give Trump the authority, based on the administration’s assessment of trading policies between nations, to renegotiate or apply tariffs as he sees fit to push individual countries on trade.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders says that Trump is always seeking “good trade deals”. Imposing tariffs is not the right way of doing this. She, meanwhile, also said that during the G7 summit in Canada that Trump proposed that Canada remove all tariffs and subsidies. Of course he said nothing about removing all of the US tariffs imposed on Canada.

She also said that “the US is very nice to Canada” and that Canada took “advantage” of the US. Sure Sarah.

Trump said the World Trade Organization treated the US “very badly”. Hmmm. If you impose tariffs and other trade issues that are imposed for no real reason, what do you expect when you lose probably every trade dispute. By leaving the WTO he doesn’t have to worry about any court cases.

With a new Mexican President, Trump couldn’t wait to say that he had already talked to Mexico or but the Mexican president mentioned nothing about bilateral trade deal.

Unsure if Trump wants a NAFTA trade deal or not. First he wanted to wait until after the Mexican election this past weekend. Now he says he could wait until after the mid-term election which actually could make sense if he thinks he can get a large majority in the Senate that he has now. Good luck there.

July 1st was Canada’s 151st birthday. So the US Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, decided to have a party in Canada’s honor. But no senior government official will attend. The opposition Conservative Party will have maybe 2 senior party members. Why? Protesting against the US tariffs imposed on Canada. In the end, while previous parties usually had 4,000 [!!!] invitations, this one had about 1,000 and excluded a chunk of Ottawa’s [Canada’s capitol] elite.

Canada through $13 billion US tariffs at the US on July 1st. Like the European Union, the tariffs were aimed at specific states where Trump is more popular. More than 40 US steel products attract tariffs of 25%. A tax of 10% has been levied on over 80 other American items including toffee, maple syrup, coffee beans and strawberry jam.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar now estimates that under 3,000 kids who may have been separated from their parents are in government custody — a figure far higher than his department released just recently. HHS had previously reported that it had 2,047 children from separated families in its care. Approximately 100 children under the age of 5.

Trump told space industry notables that he was directing the Department of Defense to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military that sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie. But retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly — a former Navy pilot, combat veteran, four-time space-flyer — doesn’t support it, and some members of Congress are also voicing their distaste for the idea. “This is a dumb idea. The Air Force does this already. That is their job. … What’s next, we move submarines to the 7th branch and call it the ‘under-the-sea force?'”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s official Twitter page mocked Trump over misspelling “pore” in a tweet where Trump was bragging about his writing ability.

Write if you can get work like this: Trump’s 27 year old assistant’s salary was $95,000 last year [matching President Obama’s last assistant] and is now at $135,000.

Michael Cohen dropped the reference “personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump” from his Twitter biography recently.

A new Quinnipiac University poll has a striking result: 49% of people said they believe Trump to be a racist while 47% believe he is not.

Trump ordered American flags to be lowered to half-staff for less than a day or to honor of the victims of deadly shooting at an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper recently. The city’s mayor said the request was initially denied. Trump has repeatedly called journalists the “enemy of the people.”

I guess you can call this good news: The current version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions that place restrictions on the president’s authority to direct generals to launch cyberattacks. NDAA in its current form also requires the president to develop and abide by a cyberwarfare strategy document that describes which activities merit cyber retaliation. It also could limit retaliatory attacks by the military without a certain level of confidence in attribution.

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Trump at the G6 + 1 plus other mayhem

So the big G7 summit is on in a town north of Quebec City [in Canada] and already there are problems at the G7. No not protester but a protester. Donald Trump has decided not to attend most of the Saturday sessions because he engaged in a bitter back-and-forth with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over Twitter.

Trump was questioning why he would attend a G7 meeting where he’s outnumbered on key issues like trade and climate change. Some had already nicknamed it “G6 + One” [He’s the “One”] This is in reference to the days where Russia was invited but not quite a full member.

Coincidently, he is skipping sessions on climate change and the environment. He doesn’t believe in them – so no real loss there. An aide will take his place – which means some nobody.

Supposedly Trump said he needs the extra time to prepare for his North Korean meeting. But just days before he said he didn’t. As well, why would you agree to a meeting so close to the G7 summit?

Anyone surprised that Trump showed up at the G7 Summit later than expected?
Just prior to the beginning of the summit, Trump used the social media platform to accuse Canada of charging US customers with astronomical tariffs on dairy products.

“Tey didn’t tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers!,” Trump whined like a little girl on Twitter. [Apologies to the little girls out there.] A few hours later, he added, “Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!”

He also accused that his host, Trudeau, is being “indignant.” Trudeau fought back saying “I’ve been firm, I’ve been clear, but I don’t think descending into insults is right for the way Canada engages with the world.”

Republican Sen. John McCain and former Vice President Joe Biden both blasted President Trump’s suggestion that Russia should be re-admitted to the G7. Russia’s membership suspended in 2014 after a majority of countries allied against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which Russia continues to hold.

Trump asserted an “absolute right” to pardon himself of any federal crimes but said he has no reason to do so because he has not engaged in any wrongdoing. “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Trump wrote on Twitter. He did not name any numerous legal scholars. Legal scholars differ on the issue of whether a president can pardon himself.

“He probably does,” said Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani if Trump has the ability to pardon himself. ‘He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably – not to say he can’t.” That’s not a definite answer.

Unsure if Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani ever really went to law school [or maybe he’s just losing it]. Giuliani said in an interview that Trump’s presidential power extends so far that “in no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. … I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.” Giuliani also said that hypothetically Trump could have shot the former FBI director James Comey to end the Russia investigation and not face prosecution for it while in office.

Giuliani also said that President Trump “probably” has the power to pardon himself, but has no intention of doing so. Already experts are saying that is probably something that can’t be done. Some are claiming as chief law enforcement officer [is that even valid?] he has the right to do it.

As well, Trump should face no legal liability for his actions including the firing of Comey even though it would be an obstruction of justice.

Former President Richard Nixon took steps to examine the question during the Watergate scandal only to see his own Justice Department advise him that he could not do so on the grounds that “no one may be a judge in his own case.” So is Trump any different?

Giuliani might have inadvertently tipped his hand when he said that Trump should not testify before special counsel Robert Mueller because “our recollection keeps changing.”
In 2000, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memo concluding that the job of the President is so important that he has effective immunity from being indicted and criminally prosecuted while in office. The Supreme Court, however, has not definitively resolved the question.

Giuliani’s comments came less than 24 hours after the revelation that the president’s legal team argued in a confidential January memo to Mueller that Trump could not have obstructed an FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election because, as president, he has total control over all federal investigations.

Sen. Ted Cruz was speechless for 18 seconds before sidestepping a question from a reporter about whether Trump can pardon himself.

Giuliani denied that the disclosure by Trump’s attorneys that Trump dictated a crucial statement on the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — a reversal from past denials — constituted a lie, instead claiming it was a routine mistake.

Giuliani said that Mueller’s team includes “13 highly partisan Democrats … (who) are trying very very hard to frame him to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office has accused Paul Manafort of attempting to shape potential witnesses’ testimony and has asked to send him to jail as he awaits his trial, according to a filing in DC District Court. Prosecutors accused Manafort and one of his associates of repeatedly contacting two witnesses in an attempt to get them to lie about the nature of work he directed on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

Manafort is currently out on house arrest and a $10 million unsecured bail, and is awaiting a trial in Virginia scheduled for late July and a trial in DC scheduled to begin in September.

Trump tweeted “As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign?” Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg responded by tweeting “Donald, Nice selective memory. … You hired Paul because you were losing the delegate fight during the primary. If you stuck with Lewandowski, you wouldn’t have been the nominee. You’re lucky Paul worked for you.”

Prosecutors have filed a new indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that also names as a defendant Konstantin Kilimnik, a close business colleague of Manafort’s who prosecutors have said has close ties to Russian intelligence.

Giuliani says Trump’s decision to initially cancel a summit brought North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to “his hands and knees” to beg to reschedule the meeting.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is breaking with Trump, agreeing with others who say there’s no evidence that the FBI planted a “spy” in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in an effort to hurt his chances at the polls. Both Ryan and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy attended a classified briefing last month following reports that the FBI used an informant in its Russian election meddling investigation to speak to members of the Trump campaign who had possible connections to Russia. Gowdy said afterward that the FBI was doing its duty.

Trump and Trudeau had a testy phone call on May 25 over new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration targeting steel and aluminum imports coming from Canada, including one moment during the conversation in which Trump made an erroneous historical reference.

Trudeau pressed Trump on how he could justify the tariffs as a “national security” issue. In response, Trump quipped to Trudeau, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” referring to the War of 1812 [the White House was burned down in 2014]. The problem with Trump’s comments to Trudeau is that British troops burned down the White House during the War of 1812.

Trump has hinted at bilateral talks between the US and Canada and the US and Mexico instead of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But both Mexico and Canada want the trilateral agreement. Canadian officials confirm that months ago Trump personally assured Trudeau that Canada would likely be exempt from steel and aluminum tariffs. So another lie by Trump.

Trudeau has publicly denounced the “national security” justification for the new tariffs. “The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is, quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable,” said Trudeau.

Trump has repeatedly said he would never and should never have hired attorney general Jeff Sessions, called him “beleaguered,” “very weak” and “disgraceful,” and reportedly refers to the former Alabama senator as “Mr. Magoo”. At a FEMA briefing in which Trump and a number of his Cabinet officials were seated around a table, Trump when on and on praising each cabinet member on their job performance except Sessions who he said “Thank you, Jeff. Thank you very much.”

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt had a top aide seek a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel [unsure if actually received or paid] and perform other personal chores for him, including house-hunting and booking personal travel to a football game [supposedly paid $130 for a ticket where organization pay millions].

Federal ethics rule prohibit supervisors from directing their subordinates to carry out personal errands. Since arriving at EPA last year, the aide’s government salary jumped from $48,000 to $114,590. The aide has since resigned her position.

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit has been canceled due to the controversy over standing for the National Anthem at NFL games, Trump announce. Many players from the team were not planning on attending the ceremony as a protest of Trump, his policies and his outspoken criticism of players who chose to kneel during the anthem. In response to Trump’s announcement, former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith called the move “a cowardly act.”

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said in a statement. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

“If it wasn’t a political stunt, they wouldn’t have planned to attend the event and backed out at the last minute,” White House press Secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said. White House blames “political stunt by the Eagles franchise”. Errr. No. Trump canceled the visit.

Fox News apologized after receiving a torrent of criticism over the network’s use of photos of various players for the Philadelphia Eagles kneeling in prayer, creating the misleading impression that they were demonstrating during the national anthem. The photos ran during a segment on the previous night, after Trump announced that he had uninvited the reigning Super Bowl champions from a traditional visit to the White House.

Trump said he wants to meet with NFL players and other athletes who kneel during the National Anthem so they can recommend people they think should be pardoned due to unfair treatment by the justice system.

Trump said he won’t be asking basketball stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry or their respective teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, to the White House after the NBA Finals. James, who has called Trump a “bum” in the past, said “no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite,” which Curry agreed with.

“I didn’t invite Lebron [sic] James and I didn’t invite Steph Curry. We’re not going to invite either team, but we have other teams that are coming,” Trump said. The conference final losers? The NHL’s Washington Capitals are invited [for now] even though some players have hinted they may not go. Unlike the NFL and NBA, many of the players in the NHL [including the Capitols] have a big chunk of their rosters filled with Canadians and Europeans.

Trump used Twitter this week to mark his 500th day in office. In an earlier tweet, he said he had “accomplished a lot – many believe more than any President in his first 500 days.” The president ticked off a series of accomplishments, including “Best Economy & Jobs EVER.” Who are the many?

After Trump pardoned Alice Johnson, who probably shouldn’t of received the sentence she got [Trump did something right!] and there are talks of further pardons. The wife of Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying about his Russian contacts, asked Trump to grant him a pardon. Right after maybe the family of Jesse James?

Trump seems to be on a pardon roll. He wants to pardon Muhammad Ali even though the athlete’s attorney said that is “unnecessary” because the Supreme Court overturned his previous conviction.

Trump suggested that a main reason the US Coast Guard was so busy rescuing people during Hurricane Harvey was that people were watching the storm on boats. The Coast Guard “saved 16,000 people, many of them in Texas, for whatever reason that is,” in a comment he said at FEMA. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters he had “no information one way or another about” the President’s claim. One report says nearly 12,000 but that is with all agencies involved.

Trump is congratulating Republican John Cox for his second-place finish in California’s primary for governor, saying the “Trump impact was really big” and predicting a possible “big Red Wave” of Republican wins. He’s joking. Right? Cox still faces long odds in a state where Democrats are increasingly dominant.

The US Air Force has canceled a $24 million [yes, that much] contract for new refrigerators for Trump’s presidential jet. It was a sole-source contract. The Air Force awarded Boeing a $23.6 million contract to replace two of the five “cold chiller units” aboard the aircraft used by Trump.

Quietly, Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made a imprudent comment about Republican Sen. John McCain’s health, was let go nearly a month after making the insensitive remark. Typical Trump administration tactics.

After Melania Trump finally showed up in public after taking about 3 weeks off for a kidney operation and recuperation, Trump tweeted that during his wife’s recovery, “they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse.” Of course, this is probably unlikely to be true. I heard nothing about these comments. Did you? [If Sanders did her actual job, she would of announced that Melania went in for an operation and what kind instead of all the suggestions of where she was.]

Giuliani told an audience that he does not think first lady Melania Trump believes that Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels. He doesn’t think. As well “… a woman who sells her body for sexual exploitation I don’t respect,” Giuliani said. “Tell me what damage she suffered. Someone who sells his or her body for money has no good name.”

“Mr. Giuliani is an absolute pig for making those comments, he’s basically stating that women that engage in the adult film industry and other forms of pornography don’t have reputations and are not entitled to respect,” replied Daniel’s lawyer Michael Avenatti. Avenatti wants Giuliani fired for his comments.

Colin Kaepernick’s legal team is expected to seek subpoenas for Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other campaign officials relating to the quarterback’s collusion case against the NFL. The new move intends to explore NFL owners’ ties with Trump adding that several owners, as well as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, have already been deposed in the case.

With all the talk from Trump on saving or creating jobs in the US, his administration backtracked on ZTE from China [after a $1 billion fine plus some changes] which saves Chinese jobs and maybe a few in the US.

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.

 

Trump and Kim Jun Un to meet, or will they

North Korea, it seems, is looking to do some negotiations for possible peace talks. When Donald Trump was asked who should take credit for the change of heart by North Korea, Trump said “Me”. Wow. No American president has ever met with a North Korea leader.

Trump immediately approved of a meeting by May with Kim Jun Un even before most of his cabinet knew. For example, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t know. He also agreed even before there were any plans for the meeting. All we know is that there will be no missile testing [but nothing about research] at least until the meeting and the North Koreans aren’t expecting any sanctions to be lifted.

No matter what is the outcome of this expected meeting [after all, you got two men with huge egos and histories of scrapping plans], Kim Jun Un will be the real winner as it will put him on the world stage diplomatically. Unlikely but if the meeting is held on US or North Korean soil, it will be a bigger win for Kim Jun Un.

Trump accused the Obama administration of using the investigation into potential ties between his campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. He tweeted “Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November?” It’s unclear exactly what pre-election investigation Trump was referring to.

The surveillance of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign associate Carter Page was approved by the secret court that oversees domestic surveillance of American citizens under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In Page’s case, the FBI and Justice Department presented enough evidence to the court to convince Republican-appointed judges to continue the surveillance into mid-2017.

Trump also tweeted “Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling”. Except Obama applied new economic sanctions on the Russian government, ordered the State Department to shut down Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, and expelled 35 Russian diplomats that he described as “intelligence operatives.”

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg said he refuses to comply with a grand jury subpoena in the Russia investigation. “Screw that. Why do I have to go? Why? For what?” He blamed the investigation’s existence on Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director including an interview where Trump said he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Comey and the fact that he held a meeting with top Russian officials in the Oval Office. “Donald Trump caused this because he’s an idiot.”

Nunberg said that he would not appear before a grand jury or spend time reviewing his communications in order to comply with the subpoena. “No I’m not protecting him, but he didn’t do anything,” Nunberg said. “You know what he did? He won the election.” The Trump campaign fired Nunberg in August 2015 after a series of racist Facebook posts came to light.

A Middle East specialist named George Nader with ties to Donald Trump’s team attended secret meetings during the presidential transition between the United Arab Emirates and Trump associates, and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Nader is a low-profile diplomatic go-between who has forged close ties to the Emirates, was stopped and questioned by the FBI at Dulles International Airport in January.

The Trump team says it views jobs in the steel industry as an economic-security issue, and therefore a national-security issue. Trump has excluded Canada and Mexico for steel and aluminum tariffs for now while the NAFTA talks continue. Previously he said that if Trump didn’t get his say during those talks, he would impose tariffs on them. But NAFTA is unrelated to national security, and excluding Canada and Mexico for that reason could prompt legal challenges at the World Trade Organization.

Trump has lobbed a grenade of uncertainty onto the NAFTA negotiating table, suggesting that tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel are now dependent on whether the countries agree to a new trade pact. He will implement the tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, a little-known trade law from 1962. To do that, Trump must claim that steel and aluminum imports hurt the country’s national security.

Trump escalated threats of a trade war, saying he would slap a new tax on European cars if the EU retaliated against his proposed steel and aluminum tariffs. “We will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S.,” he tweeted. I’m sure they don’t come into the US without any type of tax. If imposed, they would target, as retaliation, tariffs on the main industries for key [mostly] Republican Congressmen and Senators. Trump has declared that trade wars are “easy to win”.

A February 22 SEC filing shows Carl Icahn sold off his $31.3 million stake in the Manitowoc Company a week before Trump’s announcement, which is a leading global manufacturer of cranes for heavy construction based in Manitowoc, Wis., according to the company’s website. Since Trump’s announcement, Manitowoc’s stock has plummeted to about $26. Icahn had sold his shares for about $32 to $34 each, according to the SEC disclosure. Icahn is a major Trump supporter. Coincidence?

Trump actually claimed [as a great economist] that trade wars are actually a good thing. In a news conference, Trump promised his proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum will be applied in a “very loving way.” Whatever that “loving” means. Maybe he said he may exempt some other countries while some may see increases or decreases in percentages.

General Motors and Ford could each take a US$1 billion profit hit if the tariffs are put in place, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs and layoffs could be in cards as companies adjust to changing prices as much as 45,000 jobs.

Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning. Cohn, who had been rumored just weeks ago as a potential next chief of staff, will leave the White House in the wake of his fierce disagreement with Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

A new lawsuit filed by the porn star known as Stormy Daniels claims Trump never signed a hush agreement regarding an alleged sexual encounter between the two and therefore the agreement is void. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, signed the document on behalf of the President instead. She claims in the lawsuit to have had an affair with Trump several years prior to his presidency. The lawsuit says Cohen has continued his attempts at silencing Clifford — including as recently as February 27, 2018. Cohen also used a Trump Organization Email account when negotiating the payoff.

Trump is upset with White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders over her responses regarding his alleged affair with porn star Daniels. Sanders told reporters that the arbitration was won “in the President’s favor.” In fact it is a temporary restraining order last week to prevent a pornographic film star from speaking out about her alleged affair with Trump. The statement is an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists and that it directly involves the President. It is the first time the White House has admitted Trump was involved in any way with Daniels.

Lawrence S. Rosen, a lawyer representing Trump’s legal counsel Michael Cohen, said in a statement that an arbitrator, who “found that Ms. Clifford had violated the agreement,” barred her from filing her lawsuit and making other disclosures of confidential information. Daniel’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that he did not consider the restraining order, dated Feb. 27, valid because it was brought on behalf of Cohen not Trump.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 of his own money using his home equity line, which he admitted to in February. Cohen and Sanders has said Trump “vehemently denies” any sexual encounter between the two. Then why pay her that amount?

When adult film star Jessica Drake accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct a month before the presidential election, Trump said through a spokesperson that he didn’t know the woman and had “no interest in ever knowing her.” Less than a week later, a woman named Angel Ryan was listed in a secret settlement agreement negotiated by Cohen. They are the same person – confirmed by Ryan’s lawyer.

The US Office of Special Counsel announced that White House aide Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions by “advocating for and against candidates” in last year’s Alabama Senate special election. The agency said Conway “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election.” The agency sends its results to Trump for “punishment”. Good luck there!

Plans by the Trump administration to rescind an Obama-era rule that allows spouses of thousands of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States has been delayed until June, according to a court filing from the Department of Homeland Security.

Several tech companies – including Etsy, Kickstarter, Foursquare and Shutterstock – filed a petition challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s rollback of net neutrality protections. Many states are also taking the FCC to court over the issue.

A ProPublica report claims that the Trump Organization placed an order for golf tee markers displaying the presidential seal, which may be a violation of federal law.

Trump tweeted: “Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don’t have Stars anymore – except your President (just kidding, of course)!” He was actually right regarding the ratings. I won’t comment on his other comment. Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel responded with his own tweet “Thanks, lowest rated President in HISTORY.”

A day before the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the White House, Jared Kushner, who was the lead negotiator for the US paid him a visit. Remember that Kushner has lost some of his security clearance access.

he administration has hinted they are close to revealing a plan. Problem is that the Palestinian negotiators have refused to meet with the US following Trump’s announcement that the US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but that hasn’t stopped the US from moving forward with the plan.

Diamonds from first daughter Ivanka Trump’s now-defunct fine jewelry line were allegedly used in a massive money-laundering and fraud scheme. The Commercial Bank of Dubai in late June sought and later got permission to subpoena Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, claiming its diamonds were vehicles in a scheme to hide about $100 million owed to the financial institution. This was based on filings at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York made over the summer.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently consolidated power. Trump told a luncheon for Republican donors: “He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great.” Trump added, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”

Trump had a meeting with the top executive is the video game industry in the unproven thought that violent video game users could be a contributing factor for mass shootings in the US. Of course, Trump has suggested rating both games and movies for violence. Such ratings already exist.

The Trump administration has quietly decided once again to allow Americans to import the body parts of African elephants shot for sport, despite presidential tweets decrying the practice as a “horror show.” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a letter dated March 1 announcing that the importation of elephant trophies will now be approved on a “case-by-case basis.” Trump’s two adult sons are trophy hunters.

After nearly a year of threats, the Trump administration made its most aggressive move to date against a familiar target of its ire: California and its immigration policies. The Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against the state and its top officials to stop a cluster of so-called “sanctuary state” bills — a move that puts the administration on offense but is nonetheless likely to generate heated litigation over the boundaries of immigration authority.

It wasn’t a good week or so for the Trump administration last week:

  • Joseph Yun, a top U.S. diplomat overseeing North Korea policy, announced his retirement.
  • Elaine Duke, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, announced her retirement.
    Sally Donnelly, a prominent adviser to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, is resigning.
  • Reed Cordish, a senior aide to Jared Kushner, announced his departure from the White House.
  • George David Banks, a special assistant to Trump for international energy and environmental policy on the National Economic Council, resigned because of reported difficulties with his security clearance.

The National Rifle Association is suing the state of Florida after Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7026 into law, the first gun control legislation enacted in the state after the Parkland school massacre on February 14. The NRA says it goes against the Second Amendment.

The new Florida law raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18, bans the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, gives law enforcement greater power to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit, and provides additional funding for armed school resource officers.

Trump reached a presidential milestone at his Palm Beach County, Florida, golf club recently with one hundred days in office at a golf club that bears his name. So roughly a quarter of his term has been spent at that specific golf course [true, he probably did SOME work that he was voted in to do on most of those days]. The same man who said in 2014 “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf” and during the 2016 campaign he said “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”

Since Trump entered office the number of GOP leaning independent voters have dropped at least 6% but those went to the “undecided” as the Democrats barely picked up anything.

People easily disgusted by body odors seem to prefer authoritarian leaders and were likelier to support Donald Trump, an unusual study into the origins of ideology. The seemingly obscure link, it said, may be rooted in a deep-seated instinct to avoid disease — whether in individuals whose smell suggests they are germ-carriers, or “unfamiliar” people such as immigrants or minorities.

A 2015 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence pegged the total at 2,885,570 people for confidential and secret clearances and 1,363,483 for top secret clearances.

The 2018 Presidents and Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey and found Abe Lincoln the best president ever and Trump dead last. In fact, the first 7 presidents in the survey didn’t change from the same order when the survey was done 4 years ago. In order, the best 7 were Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Trump even ranked 40 out of 44 presidents when looking at Republicans and conservatives voters. Bill Clinton, who fell to 13th best after being ranked eighth in 2014. Obama came in eighth, up 10 spots from 18th in 2014. George W. Bush moved up five spots, from 35th to 30th. Reagan also moved into the top 10, ranking ninth. In 2014, he was at 11.

In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, sixty-two percent of respondents said Trump is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings and 77% say Congress is doing an inadequate job on the issue. 57% said mass shootings in the United States were more of a reflection of problems identifying and treating people with mental health problems, while 28% blamed “inadequate gun laws.” Nine percent blamed both equally. Some 58% of those polled said stricter gun control laws would have prevented the Florida shooting.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a quiet week? Nope.

You would of figured with the US government on a holiday break that this would have been a quiet week. But nope!

Donald Trump says is battling to reduce regulations but the tax bill adds to it including new tax brackets.

Meanwhile, unlike corporations, the tax cuts will benefit households until 2025. Why would the cuts expire for households and not corporations? Hmmm. Republicans made individual tax cuts temporary so they could meet budget rules that let them pass their tax overhaul with no Democratic votes.

Republicans used a procedural tactic to avoid a filibuster, a maneuver that can only be used once every fiscal year.

In the lawn in front of the White House, Trump proclaimed it a win [definitely for him as it was his only major legislative win in his first year]. Talking to the media, Trump praised the people behind him who helped pass the bill – all Republicans – a sea of mostly older white males, a couple of females and one African-American [who is right near Trump].

Trump has made the rollicking year on Wall Street a centerpiece of his political message, repeatedly taking credit for the bull run, as if he personally steered the Dow Jones industrial average through a year of smashed record highs. We will see what happens if there is a “market correction” or the markets slowly fall. For him, I think he’d be celebrating even if the market was a single point over the amount when President Obama left.

Earlier this month House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a radio interview the House would be working to reform health care entitlements in 2018, calling them “the big drivers of our debt” and Medicare as being the “biggest entitlement that’s got to have reform.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “would not expect to see” the Senate tackle entitlement reform next year.” We will see who’s right.

After reviewing scores of statements made by politicians this year, non-partisan PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking media outlet, has declared that the big winner of “Lie of the Year” for 2017 goes to one told by Trump! Trump said on NBC that “This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Trump’s had threatened to cut off US funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has raised the stakes in a UN vote sponsored by Egypt and sparked criticism at his tactics, which could be called bullying or blackmail. “We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” he said, alluding to US aid. The Us lost the vote [128 countries voted yes] with a bunch abstaining. We will see how many [including Egypt] will lose aid.

US vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the US Embassy there.

Many expected Trump, after first taking office at the beginning of 2017, to do some bipartisan legislation – something that both sides could [mostly] agree on. This would of given Trump the passing of a first piece of major legislation early instead of about 2 weeks before the end of the year.

Despite promising a $1 trillion infrastructure bill during the campaign, Trump’s plan is shaping up differently and set to be unveiled in the middle of January. The plan would propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure projects over the next decade, with the hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding. The plan will provide the administration’s principles for infrastructure reform that lawmakers can then craft into a bill.

In his first presidential budget, Trump proposed allocating the $200 billion over 10 years for infrastructure projects. But Trump’s budget cut infrastructure spending overall by $55 billion by slashing programs that write grants for highway renovation, Native American water facilities and rural airports.

Trump again took to Twitter to criticize the FBI, this time singling out two FBI officials. “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump wrote in one tweet. In another tweet, Trump said McCabe “is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!” Trump also took aim at FBI general counsel James Baker, who is being reassigned, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Trump is referencing donations to Dr. Jill McCabe’s campaign, something reported by the Wall Street Journal last year. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee made six contributions totaling $467,500 to McCabe’s campaign, the Journal reported. In addition, campaign records show that the state Democratic Party, over which McAuliffe has great influence, made two other payments totaling $207,788 in September and October 2015. These donations all occurred before McCabe took over as deputy director of the FBI and before he would have had any oversight into the Clinton email investigation. So again he tweets out fake news.

Trump said that he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller is “going to be fair” in his investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russian officials. His comments made during an interview with The New York Times come after Republicans and supporters of Trump had raised questions over Mueller and his investigative team.
Trump told the Times: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.” A bit like a dictatorship.

The White House strongly pushed back on a report that Trump spoke about immigrants in a dismissive and demeaning fashion with top administration officials. The denial came in response to explosive reporting from the New York Times, which wrote that, according to two unnamed officials, Trump said during a meeting in June that people coming from Haiti “all have AIDS,” that recent Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” in Africa and that Afghanistan is a terrorist haven.

Trump claims he is ready to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] with Canada and Mexico in a minute. He is claiming the US had a $17 billion deficit with Canada when a government office says in fact the US had a $12 billion surplus. Where does he get his fake facts from?

Puerto Rico authorities say nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said the entire island will have power by May – just in time for the next hurricane season.

Trump went after the US Postal Service because they charge too little to Amazon for delivering packages. USPS competes with FedEx and UPS to deliver parcels — but its rates are set by a commission appointed by the president, and almost every aspect of its operations are governed by Congress. But the USPS hasn’t been able to compensate for collapsing letter mail volumes due to a 2006 law that capped price increases at the rate of inflation and also limited the proportion of its budget that could be devoted to its parcel business.

Trump has sway over the Postal Service. He’s made four board nominations, who are currently awaiting Senate action. By law, it’s supposed to have 9 appointed members, and currently it has none. So in the end, Trump should blame himself. Trump went after Amazon because Amazon’s CEO is nemesis Steve Bezos.

Trump claimed that his approval ratings at this point in his presidency rival those of Barack Obama, citing a report from “Fox & Friends.” The three-day averages released on December 28, 2009 [the day Trump cited in his tweet] showed 51% approval for Obama with 43% disapproval. On December 28 of this year, Gallup released a three-day average showing 38% approval for Trump with 56% disapproval.

Trump has had the worst approval rating at the end of his first calendar year in the White House since the dawn of modern polling, sinking to a new low of 35% in a new CNN poll in December.

Trump tweeted on the day after Christmas that it is back to work. But he was seeing playing golf for part of the day.

May be not specifically targeting CNN, but an unmarked white truck was blocking CNN’s cameras from taking video of Trump playing golf this week. Every time Trump moved on the course, so did the truck. The truck was on a public road. Nice way for the truck driver to make a living.

Already at least one high speed rail station [not built yet], a renaming of a street in a Muslim area [this should set off fireworks], a park set to be open next year and a new street to be named after Trump as he pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Guatemala is the only other country that announced that they will follow. The rail station will garner plenty of protesting as it goes near some holy sites [in addition to possible further issues if some archeological areas are uncovered].

A man claiming to be the person who delivered a gift-wrapped package of horse manure at the Los Angeles home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he did it to protest the federal tax overhaul signed into law last week by Trump. Nice Christmas present!

For years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called on Washington to make it less costly for his company to bring back the billions of dollars it holds overseas. As part of the tax bill signed last week by Trump, corporations like Apple (will enjoy a repatriation tax rate of 15.5% for returning money to the US from their overseas cash piles.

At the end of the most recent quarter, Apple had $268.9 billion in cash and marketable securities, more than $250 billion of which was held outside the US. The question is whether or not Apple will bring most or all the money back to the US and whether they will do something with the money. Apple has already committed to a $300 billion capital return program that includes buybacks and dividends for shareholders.

While visiting a fire station, in a speech, Trump said “We have signed more legislation than anybody — we broke the record of Harry Truman.” Nope! Trump signed 96 pieces of items in 2017 but almost all were Executive Orders and minor bills – not major legislation. Truman signed more than 250. He then got bored and talked about giving the police military style equipment. Why? Can’t he stick with fire station related comments? Some bills overhaul entire sections of US law while others rename post offices and other federal buildings.

While at his Mar-A-Lago, where the temperature was 72 degrees. “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” What Trump doesn’t seem to understand or maybe ignore is that “weather” and “climate” are not the same thing.

Oh. 8 of the warmest years on record in the US have occurred since 2008. So that is climate – not weather. From NASA: “Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”

A video posted by Vanity Fair on their web site before Christmas which featured a handful of Vanity Fair staffers offering cheeky New Year’s resolutions for Hillary Clinton, didn’t get much attention when it was first published on December 23. But after complaints by pro-Clinton supporters a few days later, Vanity Fair sort of apologized.

That’s when Trump came into the picture by tweeting [as the issue was dying] “Vanity Fair, which looks like it is on its last legs, is bending over backwards in apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H. Anna Wintour …. is beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!” Wintour is Vogue [same owner as Vanity Fair]. Vanity Fair’s previous editor, Graydon Carter, has had a famous public spat going on with Trump for years. Carter dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.”

So Roy Moore [I don’t want to mention his title because he doesn’t deserve it] is using Trump’s playbook by claiming there were massive vote fraud in Alabama from out of state Hispanics and African-Americans. But the state didn’t take this crap and issued a report that there was none. Doug Jones was certified the winner. [I wish the state would charge Moore with something and pay for any recounts and the investigation.]

For the first time in more than two decades, a sitting President has missed the Kennedy Center Honors. The annual recognition of the arts — lauding luminaries from various fields, as they rub elbows with the Washington elite. Trump’s rationale was that by staying away, he would allow the attendees to celebrate without “political distraction.” Most [if not all] of the honorees are Democratic party faithful.

In her opening remarks, Caroline Kennedy said that would have normally sounded benign felt pointed in the current climate, as she spoke of her father’s commitment to “the rule of law, to religious tolerance and racial justice, to nuclear disarmament and scientific innovation.”

Singer Joy Villa, a Trump supporter, has filed a police report against former Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who she says sexually assaulted her at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on November 28. Villa says Lewandowski slapped her bottom hard twice while posing for a picture.

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania, said Republican candidates facing re-election would have to surpass challenging hurdles, among them Trump’s divisive nature as the figurehead of the party. He is retired when his term ends in 2018.

Remember how Trump [and Wisconsin governor] were ecstatic that Foxconn would build a huge plant there with $3 billion in incentives? Those incentives have grown to $4 billion. It will take until at least 2043 for the state to recoup that lost tax revenue. On top of that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at a low 3.2%. This could be a problem in finding an estimated 13,000 jobs [at $53,000 per year] to fill the plant. Would have been better in a state with higher unemployment.

A White House senior adviser, Frank Wuco, at the Department of Homeland Security promoted several far-right conspiracy theories in past radio appearances. Wuco is a former naval intelligence officer and conservative talk radio host Among the conspiracy theories Wuco pushed were claims that former President Barack Obama’s memoir was ghost written by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, claims that former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam and claims Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.

Wuco pushed false claims during radio appearances that Obama was not born in the US, made disparaging comments about the LGBT community, and lamented what he called the “Zimbabwe-fication” of America.

According to a CNN poll, just 35% of Americans approve of Trump, meaning it is not politically risky for Democrats to stand opposed to him. Additionally, the base of the Democratic Party is unified around their opposition of Trump as 93% of Democrats disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job.

 

Some of Trump’s campaign promises that he has failed to fulfil

As we get close to the first year of the Trump administration, here are the mostly misses in campaign pledges:

  • Repealing the Obama era health care law [Affordable Care Act] is a promise unfulfilled.
  • Withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] remains unfulfilled.
  • Congress has yet to approve money Trump has requested for his promised border wall. Even the sample walls have yet to receive any endorsement/approval.
  • The successful confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch [but was it a campaign pledge]. This is also probably the easiest to accomplish in this list.
  • He refused to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, but left the matter of new sanctions to Congress.
  • He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement but left open the possibility of rejoining it later.
  • He ordered an end to a program protecting young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as kids [DACA], but gave Congress six months to find a way to protect them from deportation.
  • He pledged during the 2016 campaign to recognize Israel’s claim to the city and to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv. He offered no timeline for the embassy relocation and signed a waiver officially delaying any move for six months.
  • He three times released executive order for travel bans only to have them go to courts. Only the second ban has gone through – but just partially.

Did you notice that many of the items what could be considered a “done deal” have backdoors which allow him to switch back or let others take the blame in case it doesn’t go through.

 

Will there ever be a quiet week in Trumpland?

To end the week comes another resignation in Trump’s White House. Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken and combative defender of Donald Trump’s national security agenda, has left his position as a White House counterterrorism adviser. Considering his position, he did not play a major policymaking role, according to administration officials, and was not a member of the National Security Council. He was the former Breitbart national security editor.

Trump blamed the media in Phoenix for the widespread condemnation of his response to a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest organized by white supremacists that led to the killing of a counter-protester. He called the media “dishonest”. Blame the media? What about both Democrats and Republicans in Congress? They are following whatever the media says?

[Seriously, isn’t this just what a dictator would say. Blame the media for his problems. Only thing he hasn’t done is locked them up or executed them.] Trump often resurrects his free-wheeling 2016 campaign style, pinging insults at perceived enemies such as the media and meandering from topic to topic without a clear theme.

He skewered both of Arizona’s Republican senators – but coyly refused to mention their names [nemesis John McCain is one], describing his own restraint as “very presidential.”

Trump has lashed out at Sen. Jeff Flake, a frequent critic, using the same language in the past. He sided with Flake’s competitor in the mid-term elections even though it is 14 months away.

CNN listed 57 “outrageous” comments Trump said in his speech. Too many to mention here.

Trump has threatened to blow up NAFTA less than one week into the renegotiation of the trade agreement. “Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal,” Trump told a campaign-style rally in Arizona. “Because we have been so badly taken advantage of.” Hmmm. Not according to the experts who say the US has done quite well with the current deal with the only major hiccup being the tribunal to decide trade disputes.

It’s been a couple of weeks since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke with Trump even though Trump said they did recently. Hmmm. The last time, there was a shouting match. Trump continues to slam McConnell for failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A key moment in their public feud came earlier this month when McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that Trump had “excessive expectations” when it came to legislating, a statement that drove Trump to publicly attack McConnell’s leadership and Senate rules on Twitter.

Over the last several months, Trump has also threatened McConnell’s rank-and-file members, putting individual members’ re-elections and McConnell’s majority at risk.

Trump tweeted “I requested that Mitch M [McConnell] & Paul R [Ryan] tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval.” Unsure what one has to do with the other but one could drag down the other.

Trump suggested night that he would be willing to risk a shutdown if he didn’t get funding to build his long-promised border wall. Now this is Trump. Unknown if he is serious as he has threatened before and the threats whimpered out. Speaker Paul Ryan rejected a threat by Trump to shut down the government to force Congress to approve funding for a border wall with Mexico.

If Congress fails to increase the debt ceiling before the beginning of October, the federal government could struggle to pay nearly 25% of the country’s bills for the month. The Bipartisan Policy Center calculates that Treasury would fall short by $80 billion in October [$347 billion normally spent per month]. Credit ratings agency Fitch said it would review the United States’ sterling AAA credit rating “if the debt limit is not raised in a timely manner prior to the so-called ‘X date’ [the first day that Treasury won’t have enough money on hand to pay all the bills due that day].”

Terminating NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] would put any industries in Canada, US and Mexico into turmoil, including the auto industry, lumber and even shipping items across the border by container. The other sides know that it is a threat but doubt if it will improve a US deal. Others say just more whining from Trump like a spoiled little child.

An international economic law professor and former State Department lawyer said he believes it would ultimately end up in court where U.S. courts would ultimately conclude that the president can’t rip up NAFTA without congressional support. That’s because Trump can’t just erase the 1994 NAFTA Implementation Act passed by Congress. Only Congress can pass laws. In addition, the U.S. Constitution makes clear that Congress has power over international commerce. So more hot air for nothing. All show and no tell.

McConnell has said that the US actually has a trade surplus. So he doesn’t know why Trump would claim that various trade deals currently in use are not good for the US.

Trump laid out goals for the war in Afghanistan, saying he will not announce dates or troop levels but “from now on victory will have a clear definition.” During the election campaign, he kept on saying that he would pull troops from Afghanistan. He also contradicted himself on whether the war should have been fought. Now he will be adding.

Trump said a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan is not feasible, pointing to the lessons the US learned from Iraq, where a vacuum allowed ISIS to grow in the wake of the American withdrawal from that country.

Trump was in Arizona and had discussed a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, who was found guilty of criminal contempt of court when he defied a judge’s order in a case involving racial profiling. Arpaio was accused of disregarding a 2011 order from a federal district judge prohibiting deputies from detaining people simply because of immigration offenses.

Well Trump did pardon Arpaio. A pardon could deepen the racial wounds exposed recently and compound Trump’s political problems.

“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” Trump asked during the Aug. 13 Fox News interview. “He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

The ACLU tweeted: “No, President Trump. Arpaio was not ‘just doing his job.’ He was violating the Constitution and discriminating against Latinos.”

Very odd people seem to support Trump. Case in point is “Michael the Black Man” in Phoenix. He has appeared in probably all Trump events since during the elections and generally gets to stand a bit behind Trump with his sign “Blacks for Trump”. He once belonged to a black supremacist who was acquitted in the early 1990s in 14 murders and firebombing and later acquitted in 2 murders. He has called president Obama “The Beast”, Hillary Clinton belongs to the KKK and Oprah Winfrey is the devil.

The Washington Post has been keeping track of how many false or misleading claims by Trump. He hit 1,000 on August 4th or 5th and now stands at 1,057.

The Trump administration has halted a study of the health effects of a common mining technique in Appalachia, which is believed to deposit waste containing toxic minerals in ground waters. “The Trump Administration is dedicated to responsibly using taxpayer dollars and that includes the billions of dollars in grants that are doled out every year by the Department of the Interior,” the statement said.

Secret service can’t afford to protect Trump’s family. More than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances — which were meant to last the entire year.

In Trump’s administration, 42 people have protection, which includes 18 members of his family — an increase from the 31 people who had Secret Service protection in Obama’s administration.

In April, CNN reported that Trump’s travel to his private club in Florida has cost more than an estimated $20 million in his first 80 days in office, putting the President on pace to surpass former President Barack Obama’s eight years of spending on travel — in only his first year in office.

In 2014, Trump tweeted: “We pay for Obama’s travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf.”

New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard said he left Trump’s unofficial evangelical advisory board after having distanced himself for several months as “it became obvious that there was a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.” The remainder of the board haven’t left.

The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal 15-member advisory committee on climate change. It was done cowardly by Email.

Hillary Clinton has released some excerpts of her new book “What Happened” that goes though the elections last year. Clinton says Donald Trump’s pacing, hovering demeanor onstage during an October 2016 presidential debate made her so uncomfortable “my skin crawled.” Of note, excerpts of Clinton reading from the book had aired on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Yes. The same couple Trump went after a while back.

White House director of rapid response Andrew Hemming became the latest communications and former Republican National Committee staffer to depart the Trump administration. Hemming’s role involved circulating positive news articles, often from conservative media outlets, about the Trump administration to reporters.

Egypt’s top diplomat was to meet with Kushner and the U.S. delegation, but a modified version of the minister’s schedule showed the meeting had been called off, shortly after the Americans landed in Cairo.

The protest came after the Trump administration on Tuesday cut nearly $100 million in military and economic aid to Egypt and delayed almost $200 million more in military financing, pending human rights improvements and action to ease harsh restrictions on civic and other non-governmental groups.

At a show in Madison Square Garden in new York City during an encore, Billy Joel & Patty Smyth sing “Goodbye To You” with images of Stephen Bannon, Sean “Garlic” Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci and others on the big screens.

9 scheduled events at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago have been canceled since Trump’s original comments about Charlottesville. Included are those from The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and The American Cancer Society.

Interesting that when it was announced on Wall Street that Steve Bannon had resigned, there was quite a big cheer by traders at the New York Stock Exchange.

With this past weekend protests, Trump flip flopped even in tweets. First he whined about the [anti-racist] “anti-police antagonists” in Boston and then shortly after praised those same people for going against racism, bigotry, etc.

German police say they have seized thousands of tablets of the party drug ecstasy in the shape of Donald Trump’s head, a haul with an estimated street value of $45,900. Yikes!