Trump’s world is beginning to unravel

Federal prosecutors said for the first time that Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump when Cohen committed two election-related crimes in 2016, as special counsel Robert Mueller outlined new contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals. Mueller also revealed that a Russian national who claimed to be well-connected in Moscow spoke with Cohen in 2015 and offered “political synergy” with the Trump campaign.

And yet Trump tweeted, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” He did not offer further explanation of his comment. Go figure that one out.

Trump tweeted “He [Cohen] lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence” after Cohen is working with the prosecution and has asked for no prison time. We will see if and what Trump says if he is convicted and is required to spend prison time.

“He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get……his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free,” People are wondering who “Scott Free” is. Should be “scot-free”.

After Trump canceled his meeting with Vladimir Poutine at the G20 [Trump claiming it was because of Russia’s capturing of Ukrainian navy boats and sailors], various pro-Poutine surrogates in the media [a.k.a. puppets] went after Trump claiming Poutine was in fact the real leader of the free world, Trump is a flunky, untrusted, unbalanced, old, etc. [Stuff we already know.]

One actually used an interesting name: Donald Fredovych Trump. Fredovych would mean “son of Fred” but also could imply “Fredo” as in the disloyal Fredo Corleone who disappointed “the Godfather.”

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks. At a post-G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on January 1st. Not surprising National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow corrected Trump, stating that the 90-day clock on trade negotiations with China began December 1, not January 1.

The administration says China agreed to “purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries”. Of course ” very substantial” could mean really a lot or not that much.

The administration also says Beijing agreed to designate Fentanyl as a controlled substance. The opioid – much of it thought to be made in China – is driving a huge rise in drug addiction in the U.S.

Trump claims that China has agreed to cut tariffs on cars it imports from the United States as part of their deal which currently stand at 40%. But the Chinese government has made no mention of cutting car tariffs as a result of the meeting between the two leaders in Buenos Aires.

The original NAFTA deal has landed back atop Trump’s hit list, with Trump again declaring he intends to terminate the 24-year-old trade pact — a move that appears designed to pressure lawmakers on Capitol Hill into approving its recently negotiated successor. That move would give lawmakers six months to approve its replacement once formal notice is delivered.

“It’s caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else,” said Trump. Exactly what is the unemployment rate in the US again? Recent job losses have been mounting under his administration but have been low for a while.

A number of Democrats in Congress said they won’t support it without more stringent enforcement mechanisms for new labour rules and environmental protection. Some Republicans say they, too, are disinclined to support the agreement in its current form.

Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto signed the new U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement during an awkward ceremony at the outset of G20 meetings Friday in Argentina.

When Trump tweets “‘I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'”

Stone is telling congressional committees that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in order to not testify in response to requests for documents and testimony. In 2016, Trump criticized those who invoke their Fifth Amendment right.

But George Conway, who is a lawyer and not a Trump supporter and Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway’s husband, said that under the portion of the US Code that deals with witness tampering in a federal investigation that Trump was doing just that in his tweet praising Stone for publicly refusing to testify against him.

But expect Trump to go after Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser. Mueller told a federal court that Flynn has given “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation and should not get jail time. His early cooperation gave prosecutors a road map for their Russia investigation and may have helped to encourage others to cooperate, the filing states.

There is talk that White House chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving very soon. It has gone to the point where he doesn’t talk to Trump even though it is a job requirement that Kelly to do so. When hired, Kelly curbed access and ruled over staffing. But recently Trump began circumventing many of the policies and protocols he enacted. Daily staff meetings became weekly.

The leading potential replacement is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff who is known to be quite loyal. He’s climbed up the political ladder to the point where Ayers would even join Trump and Pence for lunch. Several of Trump’s top advisers, including Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, have voiced concerns to him about Ayers, with some threatening to quit if he is tapped for the job.

Kelly was also interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in recent months where he responded to a narrow set of questions from special counsel investigators after White House lawyers initially objected to Mueller’s request to do the interview earlier this summer.

The Mueller questions to Kelly centered on a narrow set of issues in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice, chiefly Kelly’s recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged about how Trump had tried to fire Mueller.

Trump has decided to nominate former attorney general William Barr to be the next permanent head of the Justice Department, Trump told reporters. Barr, a former attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, has been emerging this week as a consensus candidate to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

As news about Trump administration shuffles involving the attorney general, Trump is tweeting about a different shakeup from months ago as he called former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell,” while he praised his replacement, Mike Pompeo. Trump fired Tillerson back in March and nominated Pompeo, then the CIA director, for the role.

Emails from top officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee were hacked before the 2018 midterm elections, exposing the GOP’s House campaign arm to an intrusion by an “unknown entity.” So why announce it now? Trump has mocked his political opponents when they got hacked by foreign actors, and he has praised Republicans for investing in stronger cyber protections.

Trump said in a tweet “Looking forward to being with the Bush Family to pay my respects to President George H.W. Bush.”. You don’t really look forward to a funeral! And you didn’t respect him in life either!

“I have read every piece of intelligence that’s in the possession of the United States government,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Maybe on their own there is no smoking gun, but according to experts, when you add them all up, it becomes more likely.

CIA has a high confidence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s involvement. The Wall Street Journal also reports that the intelligence agency’s assessment includes electronic communications the crown prince sent to a close adviser who oversaw the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi.

Bin Salman had reportedly said “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements [to go to a consulate]” in a recording. Reportedly, they tried to do the same luring to another Saudi activist living in Montreal but the activist was smart enough not to go to a consulate when offered.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a NATO meeting that Washington will suspend its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days, citing Russian “cheating.” Russian officials the day after warned of unspecified “retaliation” to the U.S. decision to walk out of a key arms treaty.

The House of Representatives approved a two-week extension for a government funding deadline in an effort to avert a partial government shutdown this week but setting the stage for a partial one on December 21. Congressional leaders in both parties have indicated they do not want a partial shutdown, but Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over Trump’s demand for $5 billion for his long-promised Trump Wall.

Trump earlier tweeted “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall” and yet he doesn’t explain how billions will be saved by building a wall. There will surely still be border guards.

A federal judge has finalized the schedule for when state challengers suing Trump over proceeds from the Trump International Hotel get to seek evidence for their case. They allege in the lawsuit that Trump violated a constitutional clause banning gifts and advantages from foreign and domestic governments because of his family company’s stake in the Trump hotel in Washington.

Subpoenas have been served on the Trump Organization and a dozen linked entities in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s ongoing business ties while in office. The lawsuit by DC and Maryland claims Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s ban on emoluments, or payments, from foreign or domestic government entities to the President because of his continued interest in the Trump International Hotel.

DC and Maryland have said the Trump International Hotel’s operations put other nearby hotels and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage, and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions. The hotel won its lease on federally owned property before Trump’s election.

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Trump gets two wins for the week – a first

And maybe a last.

Well it sure was an interesting week for Donald Trump.

While Trump said that “They [FBI] have free rein to do whatever they have to do,” but Trump’s counselor Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said that the reopened FBI checks into Kavanaugh would be “limited in scope, it’s meant to last one week, and … it’s not meant to be a fishing expedition.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that “Senate Republicans are going to lay out and dictate those terms, and we look forward to this wrapping up so we can see what was seen in the last six investigations that Judge Kavanaugh has been a part of.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation said that the FBI will interview a handful of people and only take direction from the White House, not the Senate and said the White House sent the limited parameters of the investigation to the FBI based on a Senate request. Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that Senate Republicans were working with White House counsel Don McGahn, who was “trying to make it as narrow as possible.”

The Democrats sent in a list of 29 people that should be interviewed properly to be satisfied. Something tells me the FBI will not be doing them all [told or otherwise].

Trump decried the “trauma” Kavanaugh has been subjected to in the confirmation process. Ummm. Would that be more than Ford or for that matter either Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh’s family? Ford has to relive it. [I am assuming she did go through the assault.] “Certainly, if they find something I’m going to take that into consideration,” Trump said when asked about the FBI investigation. “Certainly, I have a very open mind.” That is questionable.

Days later Trump said that Kavanaugh’s “life is in tatters. A man’s life is shattered. His wife is shattered, his daughters. … ” Well, next time, do some actual research on a nominee instead of putting this liar’s family through this mess.

Trump told the rally crowd in Mississippi, “I don’t even know him. I met him for the first time a few weeks ago. I don’t even know him. So it’s not like, ‘Oh, gee, I want to protect my friend.’ ” Great. He doesn’t even know his own nominee.

Trump tweeted that the people he sees at his rallies are “really angry at the vicious and despicable way Democrats are treating Brett Kavanaugh.” Of course – they’re all Republicans! He called Democrats who are against Kavanaugh “evil people” who want to “destroy people.”

The Democrats claim that any judge appointed to the Supreme Court should have an impeccable record – both as a judge and personally. The fact that there are three that accuse Kavanaugh shows that he may not be the perfect candidate.

Trump’s mockery of Christine Blasey Ford sparked an immediate backlash among two critical Republican swing votes on the nomination of Supreme Court hopeful Brett Kavanaugh, with Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins pointedly rebuking Trump. Speaking at a campaign rally, Trump cast doubt on Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by mocking her for not knowing the answers to questions such as how she had gotten to the high school party where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, an allegation he has repeatedly denied. Trump previously called her testimony “credible”.

“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. … It’s kind of appalling,” said Flake in an interview. Collins said they “were just plain wrong.” If Trump loses the Kavanaugh, vote he could only blame himself for it now.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway responded with “She’s been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us…” [Doesn’t she know smoking pot is illegal?]

Trump is criticizing female protesters who confronted senators over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he is calling them “paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad.” Trump described the women as “rude elevator screamers” and said they have “professionally made identical signs.”

At press time, Trump may have got his wish as Kavanaugh will squeak by with the confirmation. Unlike all other Supreme Court justices before him, Kavanaugh was the hardest to confirm ever.

The US, Canada and Mexico squeezed in before the US deadline to update the North American Free trade Agreement. The new deal has a new name: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Trump can claim a victory and a check next to one of his campaign promises. While there were some changes, was it really a big difference?

US farmers will have better access to the Canadian dairy market, there is a change regarding autos that may not affect Canada much and Chapter 19, which is a way to resolve trade issues, is staying put. The US lost every Chapter 19 complaint so far.

“I then will submit it [USMCA] for approval to Congress where in theory there should be no trouble — but anything you submit to congress is trouble, no matter what,” Trump said. What a positive guy! He then added “…we’re [Democrats] not going to approve it because that’ll be good for the Republicans, so therefore we can’t approve it.”

Trump also said “truly historic news for our nation and indeed for the world.” I don’t think the world really cares much about a deal that doesn’t involve them.

“Just for those babies out there that talk about tariffs — that includes Congress, ‘please don’t charge tariffs’ — without tariffs, we wouldn’t be standing here,” Trump said. “I can tell you, Bob and all of these folks would not be standing here right now.” This comment was made because number of Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan — have expressed opposition to tariffs.

Some experts claim the new trade agreement is just a change of names that Trump likes plus some expected changes [such as copyright and shipping duties] and a few issues [Canadian dairy management and Mexican labor wages]. But Trump whined since before the election that the NAFTA deal was the worst deal ever according to him. So he didn’t change much.

Between the new NAFTA deal and Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Trump can claim two victories. Major? I doubt it except to him.

China says it deplores a controversial new clause [section 32.10] in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that calls on the countries to notify each other if they enter into trade talks with a “non-market” economy. Some say it gives the Americans a veto over Canada and Mexico pursuing free trade with China.

Trump helped “his parents dodge taxes” in the 1990s, including “instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to amass a fortune from them, according to an analysis from The New York Times. Denial from the Trump family of course.

Trump and his siblings helped his parents build their wealth by hiding millions of dollars in gifts in a “sham corporation,” according to the Times. The President assisted his father in taking “improper tax deductions worth millions more.” He also helped to “formulate a strategy” for his parents to undervalue their real estate holdings on their tax returns to reduce their tax bill.

Trump’s older sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, has kept a very low profile since he ran for office. But it appears as though she inadvertently had a central role in The New York Times blockbuster report on her brother’s alleged tax schemes. One of the Times key findings was a financial disclosure form from Barry’s Senate confirmation proceedings in 1999 to be a federal appellate judge.

Go figure out this one: Trump, at a news conference, told reporter Cecilia Vega that “That’s OK. I know you’re not thinking. You never do,” and the initial transcript said “thinking”, but to maybe remove the insult, the White house revised the transcript within 24 hours replacing “thinking” with “thanking” even though the video clearly says “thinking”. Isn’t changing any presidential text illegal?

At a rally in West Virginia, Trump said “When you see people who are angry and mean and nasty and untruthful…” He was going after Senator Diane Feinstein when those words can describe himself more than her.

Regarding what they call “Laughtergate” at the UN during Trump’s speech at the UN, Trump said “The fake news said people laughed at President Trump. They didn’t laugh at me. People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done.” Seriously? It was a comedy show?

Deeper into his speech, Trump had this warning for the other 180 plus leaders: “We are taking a hard look at US foreign assistance … Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and frankly are our friends.” And I would guess the number of friends have dropped in the last two years.

Just after California Governor Jerry Brown signed a state net neutrality bill in defiance of federal regulations, the Trump Administration asked a court to block California from attempting to restore Obama-era rules requiring open access to the internet.

The measure prohibits internet service providers in California from stratifying users and websites by who can pay for faster surfing speeds and service. If the law stands, broadband providers including Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. will be blocked in the state from slowing traffic on their airwaves while charging consumers for faster access.

The Trump administration is quietly moving to weaken U.S. radiation regulations, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight. They already have targeted a range of other regulations on toxins and pollutants, including coal power plant emissions and car exhaust, that it sees as costly and burdensome for businesses.

[Reducing regulations is not surprising for Trump. After all, him and most of his cabinet came from big business. If this saves companies more money (at what medical costs), these people could indirectly add to their pockets some of the profits that are in blind trusts or in the case of Trump, should be.]

Melania Trump is in Africa visiting a few countries. She will be checking out daycare centers and hospitals funded by a US government agency. Problem is that the Trump administration have signaled that they will cut 30% of the funding.

Steve Bannon suggests Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti could go toe-to-toe with Trump in the 2020 election.

Kanye West opened up the season for Saturday Night Live. At a commercial brake, he stayed on stage and had a pro-Trump rant. He was booed by quite a few of the people in the audience.

Trump claims that West was told he could not wear a “Make America Great Again” hat after the show but he did. Now who cares what he wears offline?

Being like his father, Donald Trump Jr. claims West was bullied by Saturday Night Live staff. Seriously? Didn’t hear West complain. [And speaking of bullying….]

In another dumb comment from Donald Trump Jr., he told Daily Mail TV that he worries more for his sons than his daughters in the current political climate, saying he is concerned they may one day face false sexual misconduct allegations. If his sons have done nothing wrong, nothing to fear.

 

Trump just loves to change his tune

Special counsel Robert Mueller seems to have built in safeguards to discourage Donald Trump from pardoning Paul Manafort. The plea deal Mueller struck with Manafort contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage the former Trump aide from seeking a pardon and to rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant.

A part of the deal says that if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors immediately have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed previously or confessed to during recent plea negotiations.

The agreement also says prosecutors can come after the five identified homes or apartments, three bank accounts and a life insurance policy now or at any point in the future “without regard to the status of his criminal conviction.”

“We had a good saying that we’ve held firm to this day, as the dean was reminding me before the talk, which was ‘What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep,” Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said in a 2015 speech at Catholic University of America’s law school.

Kavanaugh’s nomination vote has been delayed until the following week to allow the Judiciary Committee to question him as well as his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, regarding his alleged sexual assault on her when she was 15.

Once again, unsure if Trump is human. Being insensitive, Trump said of the hardship on Kavanaugh’s family’s life and of course Kavanaugh with Trump saying “hurting someone’s life very badly” and his reputation.

Trump claims that the FBI “doesn’t do that” that is investigate whether what Ford said was true. But in fact, the FBI don’t investigate issues like this unless ordered to do so. There is a difference.

Not surprising Ford’s life has been threatened. FBI investigating. [See Trump, something they actually do.]

When Trump finally addressed the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh were quietly stunned when Trump said the process should be followed and the accuser should be heard. In recent days, Trump has bragged about the positive coverage he’s received for his response, according to multiple sources. This helped his ego. Not really positive coverage – more like stunned.

You knew it wouldn’t last long. Trump, in a series of tweets, deviated from his previously measured comments about Ford who has accused Kavanugh of sexual assault, claiming that if the attack she alleges “was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities”. He also said Kavanaugh is “under assault by radical left wing politicians.”

Trump asked why no one called the Federal Bureau of Investigation 36 years ago. The FBI would not have jurisdiction in the case at the time of the alleged assault. Among the most common reasons for not reporting these incidents were fear of reprisal, shame and a belief that authorities could or would do nothing to help. [Maybe something Trump will learn once he is charged with those alleged assaults from him.]

Ford said she told no one at the time what had happened to her, and was terrified of punishment from her parents if they realized she had been at a party where underage drinking was happening.

“There’s no reason to attack her. The president is defending his nomination to the United States Supreme Court as a man of character, integrity, impeccable academic and judicial qualifications,” counselor to Trump, Kellyanne The Witch Conway said when asked about Trump’s original measured response to the allegations. How she was wrong…. again. Just a few days before Trump said “Why would I attack her?”

In his May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, it makes Trump more vulnerable to claims that he obstructed justice. So Trump’s legal team have come up with a curious explanation: The interview was “edited” and that’s why people are confused about what Trump meant. Of course no evidence of this is provided.

Previously NBC announced an interview with Trump. The next day, Trump fired FBI director James Comey. White House stated that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had officially recommended Comey’s firing, and Trump had just accepted the recommendation.

But Trump went off script saying to Holt, “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, 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 have won.” The camera stayed on Trump the entire time.

Trump vowed to eradicate a “lingering stench” at the Justice Department, hours after it was reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed wearing a “wire” to record conversations with Trump and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office according to sources familiar with memos authored by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe documenting the discussions.

“But we had some real bad ones — you see what’s happened at the FBI, they’re all gone, they’re all gone, they’re all gone. But there’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.” Hmmm. Only 3 know FBI agents have left.

“I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false,” Rosenstein said.

Trump has to get political even in a disaster. the only question is what took him so long. For example “… But don’t be fooled, at some point in the near future the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”

In an interview with The Hill, Trump said about Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.” He also said that he is “very disappointed” in him.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell claims that Trump recently suggested Spain should build a wall across the Sahara desert to deal with the issue of migration from Africa. Notice the problem? The Sahara desert isn’t in Spain. Most of the migrants come in from the sea.

The Chinese government said that it would impose tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration’s announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs. The White House warned previously that it would respond to any retaliation from Beijing with yet more tariffs.

Then Trump tweeted “China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me.” Hmmm. When did they “openly state” that? If you remove farmers, ranchers and industrial workers, what is left to apply tariffs to after you applied 4 times the amount on China?

“Canada has taken advantage of our country for a long time” said Trump. Let’s see. 325 million in the US [excluding illegals], 37 million in Canada. So the US has 9 times the number of people and yet couldn’t make a deal Trump would like? On the other hand, he doesn’t like anything related to trade unless he can slap on tariffs or knows he got a steal of a deal.

Trump tweeted “Our Steel Industry is the talk of the World. It has been given new life, and is thriving. Billions of Dollars is being spent on new plants all around the country!” Yes, since tariffs were imposed on July 1st, steel plants have suddenly popped up all over the US. I think not. If everything goes well, most steel plants take at least 20 months to build and that’s only after approvals and funding are done.

“Tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with Billions of Dollars, and Jobs, flowing into our Country – and yet cost increases have thus far been almost unnoticeable,” Trump tweeted. But this is Trump. So whatever he said usually is a streaming pile of rubbish. Already prices of vehicle and infrastructure have increased.

Yes. The US economy is doing so well, Wells Fargo is adding to the unemployment lines. Wells Fargo plans to cut as many as 26,500 jobs over three years as the troubled bank grapples with the rise of online banking and soaring legal bills. It sold off branches in 3 mid-west states in June.

The Trump administration’s trade wars with China, Canada and others are starting to affect the US. Alibaba is dropping its promise to create 1 million jobs in the US. This came after Walmart asked the Trump administration to walk back its plan to put tariffs on Christmas lights, shampoo, dog food, luggage, mattresses, handbags, backpacks, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, cooking grills, cable cords and air conditioners.

Other retailers and consumer goods companies, including Ace Hardware, Target and Joann fabric and craft stores, also lobbied the administration. The administration imposed tariffs on those goods – although it did spare bicycle helmets, high chairs, car seats and playpens from the final list. It also left off Apple Watches and Air Pods, a reprieve for Apple.

Trump’s refugee plan for the coming year would nearly halve the number of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. By contrast, some regions would see increased caps. The number of refugees from Latin America would double in fiscal year 2019.

Trump tweeted “Today, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we share our gratitude for all the ways Hispanic-Americans make our country flourish and prosper. Today, and every day, we honor, cherish, and celebrate Hispanic-American Workers, Families, Students, Businesses, and Leaders…” After his comments about Hispanics, I’m sure it wasn’t him who tweeted those words.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of CNN’s Anderson Cooper about a picture in water in Hurricane “Florence” and made some dumb whiney comments. In fact the picture is 10 years ago. What a genius…

A little reminder that the blog’s primary focus is on Donald Trump and not about US politics in general. Therefore you won’t see the blog detailing more about [for example] the Kavanaugh/Ford legal mess unless Trump gets involved or one of his subordinates if of use. The economy, however, would be included as it is related to the administration’s policies.

Manafort gives Trump a big blow

While until Friday, there was no huge story [or sometimes scandal], it had plenty of interesting items.

Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty to two charges, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said. Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses Trump tweeted the week of Manafort’s conviction in his Virginia trial last month saying “‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” Will he deny he said that now? Unknown if Manafort will cooperate with the special counsel’s office in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Not surprising the White House has denied Manafort has anything to do with Trump winning the 2016 election.

Since we know how Trump is, it isn’t surprising that Trump used the platform to launch a fresh round of assaults on the FBI and Justice Department during the 9/11 anniversary.

Rep. Mark Meadows sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a letter alleging a “systemic culture of media leaking” among high-ranking Justice Department and FBI officials. The letter reveals previously undisclosed messages between Strzok and Page, who were involved in both the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Not surprising Meadows didn’t prove that “high-ranking” officials were involved.

Continuing with the Bob Woodward book “Fear: Trump in the White House”, as Trump threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, a letter signaling that intent sat on his desk, only to be quietly removed by Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser in the White House, Woodward said. Trump didn’t even remember writing the letter [i.e. “Where is that letter?” or in the case of this administration “Who stole my letter?”].

Woodward said Chief of Staff John Kelly was similarly distraught when Trump drafted a tweet threatening to remove all US military personnel from South Korea. Trump was convinced not to send out the tweet in part after Secretary of Defense James Mattis told him those personnel are there “in order to prevent World War III,” according to the book.

Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged in an interview that his father can trust fewer people around him [outside of family] than he would like in the wake of an anonymous commentary claiming there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration.

Trump still doesn’t believe the numbers that died in Puerto Rico last year. “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” he said in a tweet.

He then tweeted “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” he wrote. Yes. Over 2900 people died of old age right after Maria. “Raising” billions? The government gave billions. The governor of Puerto Rico is a Democrat. Get it?

Of course [among other things] he is forgetting [or refusing to believe] that [for example] people died from drowning or maybe were in isolated areas of the island where it took rescuers days if not weeks or months to find or report additional deaths. Maybe in his mind, anything after a cut off date isn’t a death related to Maria.

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said in response to a question about Trump’s assertion that “Casualties don’t make a person look bad, so I have no reason to dispute these numbers.” Slightly jabbing Trump there.

Trump still refuses to accept any blame for the relief effort following Puerto Rico’s monster storm last year. He insisted the operation had been “incredibly successful,” despite shocking new figures putting the death toll at nearly 3,000. He tweeted “We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida….” Exactly who graded his administration’s work? How about there is still a trickle of people in Puerto Rico.

His visit to Texas to assess conditions after Hurricane Harvey was criticized because of his upbeat rhetoric that at times seemed more in keeping with a political campaign than a relief effort.

Trump warned that upcoming storm, Hurricane Florence, would be “tremendously big and tremendously wet” and that the government was sparing “no expense” and was “totally prepared.” We’ll see.

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all because it’s an island. You can’t truck things onto it. Everything is by boat,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. He got something right. Puerto Rico is an island but how about airplanes?

Democratic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for a House of Representatives seat from New York, tweeted “The 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Maria is next week. Some of my PR family JUST got power a few weeks ago. People are developing respiratory issues partly due to airborne fungal spores from lack of proper cleanup.”

The emergency supplies were brought in by FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which smashed the island and left its residents without power, without roofs and without running water. And yet in Ceiba, there are 20,000 pallets of bottled water sitting there. Brought in after Maria but never used even though people on the island lacked drinking water. But the current administrator of Puerto Rico’s General Services Administration claims that after about 700 pallets had been distributed, complaints began to come in about the water’s foul smell and taste. Were they tested?

“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,” Trump tweeted. “He told them to wait out the Trump Administration!” This was after former Secretary of State Kerry has been holding some talks with the Iranian regime.

Even current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was briefed by Kerry on his conversations with Iranian officials so he would be aware of Iran’s thinking and [probably to please his boss] Pompeo said “What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented.” And then added “actively undermining US policy as a former secretary of state is literally unheard of.” Undermining?

Like Secretary of States before Kerry, they still visited other countries to help their country especially when they have good relations. As for Trump, we know he knows nothing about the law. So what was illegal? And I gather Kerry never said anything about waiting until Trump is shown the curb.

As a reminder, after Trump’s election but before he became president and took office, his transition team was accused of reaching out to the governments of both Israel and Russia to undermine Obama administration policies.

As of this week, there are 12,800 immigrant children being cared for by the Health and Human Services Department. That’s the most ever, an HHS spokeswoman confirmed. In 2016, the monthly average of the number of children in care ranged from just over 4,000 to over 9,000. The rate of children being released from HHS has plummeted substantially. At the same time, the average length of time children stay in custody is skyrocketing.

Maybe adding to the NAFTA trade negotiations is potatoes. US potato growers complaining that Canadian growers are dumping cheap potatoes in the US. Canadian growers say it is just the exchange rate. Maybe expect Trump to add some tariffs on potatoes because it is a national security issue. Potato launchers?

For a good laugh, in her book “Mad Politics: Keeping Your Sanity in a World Gone Crazy,” Gina Loudon, who describes herself as a member of the “Donald Trump for President Media Advisory Board,” said “My book actually uses science and real data and true psychological theory to explain why it is quite possible that this president in the most sound-minded person to ever occupy the White House.”

Her book, ranked no. 436,949 in Amazon’s bestsellers rank as of early Friday, refers to her as “America’s favorite psychological expert.” “The writing is turgid, which is amazing for a book written at the 6th grade level,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon.

Her website says she has a PhD. but it doesn’t say in what field. But Loudon obtained her PhD in “human and organizations systems” from Fielding Graduate University, an online school headquartered in Santa Barbara plus a certification in “Body Language Interpretation, and Hypnotherapy.”

Trump tweeted about an article from August 31, when Ford announced that it was canceling plans to make the Focus Active, a compact crossover, in China and ship them to the United States by saying “This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!”

Wrong. “It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units,” Ford said. So Trump was thinking that Ford would make the car in the US but Ford is actually stopping production of the car to be shipped to the US because Trump’s tariffs would make the cars too expensive. The car is still made in Europe.

Native American tribes in Montana and South Dakota say the Trump administration approved the Keystone XL oil pipeline without fully considering its potential damage to burial grounds and other cultural sites according to a lawsuit.

“I mean, the truth is I think President Donald Trump is the most accomplished President of my lifetime, and I think already one of the most successful presidents in American history.” This coming from Vice President Mike Pence. He’s been drinking that strange Kool-Aid.

A guy now known as “Plaid shirt guy” was escorted out of a Trump Montana rally. He wasn’t enthusiastic even though he was supposed to as he was standing just to the left of Trump behind him.

All he made was funny faces – sort of like saying “serious” or “what”. He was escorted off the stage and was briefly held and questioned by the Secret service.

In two different rallies in the west, Trump was changing his stories. In Indiana, he claimed nine muscular men – eight crying – greeted him and were miners.

But then in South Dakota, Trump claimed nine big muscular men came to him, eight crying, to meet him. But this time they were steel workers – not miners and happened at a United States Steel plant and not at a rally in Indiana. Trump also seems to like “crying” in his fake stories and even used crying in calling politician names.

Trump claimed that multiple Korean War parents of soldiers [read that again a few times] begged him to get their sons’ remains released by North Korea.

Noticed the problem? Those parents would probably be at least 100 years old. So he changed the story and now said it was the children of the soldiers and they were crying.

Commenting about how much he loves [sarcastically] some news outlets, Trump said “The New York Times would not exist” without him. Then he said the New York Times and “CNN and other phone media outlets will be out of business” in 6.5 years when he is out of the White House.

Trump signed an executive order meant to punish foreign entities for interfering in US elections, an attempt to demonstrate muscle on an issue he’s been accused of downplaying. The order will allow new sanctions against Russian or other foreign actors. Experts say it’s redundant because only he can approve sanctions.

“Today’s announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it….” wrote Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland. The two lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require such mandatory sanctions earlier this year.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton denied that harsh reaction to Trump’s Helsinki meeting with Putin was partly what spurred the decision to sign the new order. OK. So why take 3 months to sign it?

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said and then backtracked that he could beat Trump in an election. He isn’t running. “I can’t beat the liberal side of the Democratic Party.” He added: “I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is. I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn’t work with me…. And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money,” he said, referring to himself. “It wasn’t a gift from Daddy.”

A group called Make Integrity Great Again tried to block Trump’s Washington hotel from renewing its alcohol license from Washington’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. MIGA seized upon DC regulations to assert Trump is not of “good character” and therefore should not be able to sell alcoholic beverages at the Trump International Hotel. They failed. Hotel has the license still. There was an “an alleged sale-to-minor violation” but not enough to revocation, only a fine or warning.

On his 601st day in office, Trump broke what many people might have assumed was an unbreakable barrier: He said his 5,000th thing that was either totally false or partially untrue. That’s according to the count at The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. The number has more than doubled in the past 500 days, averaging just over 4 falsehoods in the first 100 days.

On September 7th alone, he hit 125 falsehoods and in a 10 day period [including the 7th], he averaged 32 per day.

Eight major recent polls [including ABC News/Washington Post, Gallup, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Quinnipiac University] show that Trump’s approval has dropped over 2% from the previous pools from each of them on the average. Now a combined average of 347.8% approval.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s approval rating for handling the Russia investigation stands at 50% in a new Poll conducted by SSRS. That outpaces Trump’s approval rating on the matter by 20 points. In the last 3 months, Mueller has gone up 9%, Trump has gone up 1%.

In the same poll, 47% think Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 48% don’t feel that way.

72% say they think Trump should testify under oath for Mueller if asked. Among the 23% who say Trump shouldn’t testify, about half feel that way because they think the President has no obligation to do so, while a third think that testifying could be a perjury trap.

 

Trump goes after Sessions again

So I decided to do a mid-week blog with mostly leftovers plus the long weekend and I decided to hold off on the Bob Woodward bombshell until the next edition where by then we should see how Donald Trump responds. I wonder.

We’ve seen already that Trump knows very little about the law. Case in point….

Trump blasted his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and lamented the indictments last month of two lawmakers who were his earliest supporters in Congress during the 2016 election, suggesting they should not have been charged because they are Republicans.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California was indicted for using campaign funds for personal use and were charged with counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy. Rep. Chris Collins of New York was charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements related to an alleged insider trading scheme.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” Trump tweeted. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…” Actually, New York and California tend to be pro-Democrat.

A decision by the Justice Department to hold off on prosecuting two Republican congressmen up for re-election in order to help them win would have been highly unethical and a blatantly politically motivated violation of the department’s nonpartisan mission. Trump believes his political allies should be immune from prosecution, regardless of the evidence stacked against them.

Under long-standing Justice Department custom but not law, prosecutors generally avoid public disclosure of overt investigative steps involving a candidate for office or election matters within 60 days of an election.

We know that Sessions should be losing his current job following the November mid-term elections.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great,” the senator’s daughter Meghan McCain said in a stunning eulogy laced with grief, anger, pride and love. “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.” She was obviously aiming her comments at Trump without naming him. Trump wasn’t invited to the funeral.

Trump spent the morning of the funeral at the White House, attacking Canada [see later on in the blog], hitting out at Obama, whose name he misspelled in a Twitter post, and assailing the FBI and the Justice Department over the Russia investigation before heading to his golf club in Virginia. During his campaign, Trump said McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam and he initially declined to release a statement marking his death.

In the third row, behind three ex-presidents, their wives and their Secret Service details, sat Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner were also in the congregation.

Convicted former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has publicly contradicted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress, saying both Sessions and Trump apparently supported his proposal that Trump meet with Vladimir Poutine during the 2016 campaign, according to a court filing.

The Trump administration will hold back more than 100,000 pages of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s service because the White House and the Department of Justice have determined they are protected by constitutional privilege, according to a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Trump again threatened to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] if Canada doesn’t concede to new terms. Trump said there is “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal,” referring to the tentative bilateral agreement the United States reached with Mexico earlier this week.

“If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out,” Trump said. He also urged Congress not to “interfere” with negotiations “or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off.”

“Remember, NAFTA was one of the WORST Trade Deals ever made. The U.S. lost thousands of businesses and millions of jobs. We were far better off before NAFTA.” Show proof that NAFTA is the worst ever….

The United States and Mexico announced a preliminary bilateral trade deal after resolving an issue over auto manufacturing. Canadian officials rejoined the talks this week. But the fate of NAFTA became uncertain when the United States and Canada failed to come to an agreement on rewriting the three-nation trade pact before a US-imposed deadline that would have allowed them to sign a new deal before Mexico’s president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office on December 1.

Trump wants Canada to end its steep tariffs on US dairy products, claiming they hurt US farmers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to protect his country’s dairy industry. Trump also threatened new tariffs on Canadian cars if the country doesn’t comply with US-terms of a new trade deal. Yup. This is blackmail – Trump style.

It is questionable whether Trump can continue with most of his threats. For example, it is Congress which approves or tear up free trade agreements. Not him. He can apply more tariffs but we have seen already that it will hurt Americans just as much.

The Pentagon says it’s taken final steps to cancel $300 million in planned aid to Pakistan. The move earlier this summer reflects the Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s commitment to assisting the US strategy for pressuring the Taliban, whose leaders use Pakistan as a sanctuary. Pentagon officials say a request was submitted to Congress this summer for authorization to use the $300 million for other purposes.

Nine current and former White House staffers and administration allies expressed concerns that the West Wing is simply unprepared for the potential troubles ahead. They spoke on the condition of anonymity over concerns about estranging colleagues.

The White House press office is down to four press secretaries working on day-to-day White House matters, including Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, and the regional and Cabinet affairs media teams in the communications office have been hollowed out.

Trump picked the state of West Virginia to announce his plan to roll back Obama-era pollution controls on coal-fired power plants. Trump left one thing out of his remarks, though: northern West Virginia coal country will be ground zero for increased deaths and illnesses from the rollback on regulation of harmful emission from the nation’s coal power plants.

The Trump administration says it will impose preliminary anti-dumping duties on large-diameter welded pipe from Canada and five other countries. The other countries being hit with duties include China, Greece, India, Korea, and Turkey, with penalties ranging from 3.45 per cent for Turkey to over 132 per cent for China. Canada gets hit with 24.38 per cent.

The United States imposed 25% tariffs on another $16 billion of Chinese goods. The tax affects 279 Chinese products, including chemical products, motorcycles, speedometers and antennas. China responded immediately with 25% tariffs on an equal amount of American goods, such as chemical products and diesel fuel.

Trump tweeted recently that it was “outrageous” that China-produced fentanyl, a cheap and deadly synthetic opioid at least 50 times stronger than heroin, continued to “pour into the US” through international mail. A senior official with China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, said in a press briefing Wednesday that Trump’s comments were “unacceptable”. “The United States has no proof that most fentanyl in the country comes from China,” he said. “It’s highly irresponsible to draw such a conclusion based on some individual cases.” Who would you believe? Hmmmm. I’ll get back to you later.

Seems Trump is blaming China for everything. China has denied an accusation by Trump that it hacked the emails of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election. Trump tweeted that China had hacked Clinton’s emails, without offering any evidence or further information, and suggested that the FBI and Department of Justice should investigate. The same two departments he doesn’t trust?

Trump accused China even though The Justice Department has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Party. Again it shows you how much he trusts his own departments. He is again helping Russia. He defending/helping “Crooked Hillary”? Who would you believe? Hmmmm. I’ll get back to you later.

Here is an example of Trump’s tariffs not helping Americans: When the tariffs were imposed in 2017, Trump expected more jobs in the US as companies would be buying US lumber. Nope. Lumber mills have jacked up the pricing of lumber [probably just ever so slightly less than Canadian lumber]. This has increased the cost of putting up or repairing buildings and other infrastructures. Those buying a new house have to pay extra.

The price of framing lumber had been $358 per thousand board feet shortly before the levies were announced, and rose steadily for the ensuing year, reaching a peak in June of $582 — a 62 per cent increase. That represented an average $9,000 more per house, according to NAHB calculations. Prices have since fallen back to around $440 per thousand board feet, still adding $4,000 to the average home, the builders claim.

The Washington Examiner came out with a story that says an online betting website from Antigua and Barbuda are claiming that Trump will win the 2020 election with a 3-2 bet. His closest challenger is California Sen. Kamala Harris, listed at 10-1. And Trump [of course] retweeted about this. Unsure if related, he added “…And according to Polls, would do even better today!” [related to the 2016 election]. The Washington Examiner is not even in the top 10 circulation of newspapers and is listed under the heading “weeklies and specialty newspapers”. It is as influential as the Plattsburgh [NY] Post-Republican.

A bill that would have significantly bolstered the nation’s defenses against electoral interference has been held up in the Senate at the behest of the White House, which opposed the proposed legislation.  The bill was supported by both parties.

As it currently stands, the legislation would grant every state’s top election official security clearance to receive threat information. It would also formalize the practice of information-sharing between the federal government-in particular, the Department of Homeland Security-and states regarding threats to electoral infrastructure. A technical advisory board would establish best practices related to election cybersecurity. Perhaps most significantly, the law would mandate that every state conduct a statistically significant audit following a federal election.

Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, says that her father would be appalled by the leadership of Trump. Will Trump respond? He went after previous Republican presidents and leaders. So why not go after Davis.

The Washington Post has been counting: Trump has made 4229 false or misleading claims in 558 days [just over 7.5 per day].

Trump told lawmakers he was scrapping a planned pay raise for civilian federal workers [not the military], saying the nation’s budget couldn’t support it. An across-the-board 2.1% pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect in January. In addition, a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where a worker is posted — the “locality pay increase” — was due to take effect. But a day later Trump is planning to spend the weekend studying up on the issue of government compensation.

According the NBC News/GenForward survey, the bimonthly survey found that in the past year, millennials’ impression of the Democratic Party remained split between favorable and unfavorable views. Still better than the Republican Party where there are hovering mostly in the low 60s unfavorable for the past year and mid-twenties for favorable.

Trump hit a new low when over 60% of them in a poll disapprove of Trump.

A bit of humor:

For the services for the late Senator John McCain, in the audience was Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump.

Jared had a question for Ivanka at one point but decided to hold off until later on. After the services, while in their limousine on the way back to their home, Jared finally asks his question:

“Honey. I could not figure this out. Meghan McCain had a beautiful eulogy. But at one point she skirted around naming someone. Who was that?”

Five seconds later, Jared had a black eye.

Trump pressures evangelists to vote for him

In a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders, Donald Trump said [in a secret recording] “This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It’s a referendum on so much.” If the GOP loses, he said, “they [the Democrats] will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

Someone is getting nervous. So not only is he lumping the Democrats and Antifa [a violent anti-Fascist group] as one, he is expecting violence to occur after the mid-term elections and the Democrats to undo everything he’s done. Which was? Of course, Trump can veto any bill that the Democrats attempt to push through – but he doesn’t tell them that.

He also added “… you have people who preach to almost 200 million people. Depending on which Sunday we’re talking about.” Huh? Are there more than one Sunday in a week?

Then  Trump repeated his debunked claim that he had gotten “rid of” a law forbidding churches and charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates. In fact, the law remains on the books, after efforts to kill it in Congress last year failed.

The law that Trump says he got rid of is the so-called Johnson Amendment which says churches and charities “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of [or in opposition to] any candidate for elective public office.”

With the death of Senator John Sidney McCain III, Trump has not been invited to the funeral. Probably the first in a long time for a well-known politician.

Trump went against the advice of senior aides to issue an official White House statement praising McCain for his heroism and decades of service, telling aides he instead wanted to post a brief tweet. Trump’s tweet did not mention McCain’s military or Senate service nor include any praise for the late Arizona Republican.

Melania Trump and Mike Pence both sent tweets mentioning McCain’s service to the nation and offered condolences – unlike Trump.

Trump gave in twice in one day. First the veterans American Legion requested that the flag go back until half mast according to protocol. Then after being hounded by reporters all day [he wouldn’t answer back], late in the day, and after urging from senior aides, he relented, offering brief plaudits for the recently passed lawmaker in a statement after responding to questions earlier only with silence although most was about the logistical details and not about the man.

Trump told some advisers he believed the television coverage of McCain’s death was over the top. But this is part of his inflated ego. An important politician died and Trump still thinks that the politician’s death is making more news than anything he does.

US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson dealt a blow to Trump’s efforts to “promote more efficient” government, ruling that key provisions of three recent executive orders “undermine federal employees’ right to bargain collectively” under federal law.

Departments and agencies were directed to engage in tougher negotiations over collective bargaining agreements and to conclude talks in under a year to limit the expense of “drawn-out bargaining.” Contracts were to be renegotiated to limit the amount of time authorized employees could spend on union business during official work hours, known as “official time.”

Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said that he “could not independently confirm” the claims he made on television recently that Cohen witnessed Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., telling his father about the Trump Tower meeting beforehand. Davis is also hedging suggestions he made on television recently that Cohen could tell special prosecutor Robert Mueller about whether Trump was aware of and encouraged Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign before it became publicly known.

Trump and his then personal attorney Cohen devised a plan to purchase potentially damaging stories about Trump from AMI, The New York Times reported. The information gathered on Trump dating back to the 1980s includes older stories and notes about Trump’s marital woes, lawsuits and tips about alleged affairs, among other things.

Three anchors on Fox News say Trump is lying about Cohen and Stormy Daniels. Even they are beginning to turn on Trump.

“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court….” Trump tweeted. With trump’s history, he will probably be shown the white door before confirmation.

McGahn’s standing in the White House has been the subject of much speculation following the disclosure earlier this month that he has cooperated extensively with Mueller’s probe, participating in several interviews spanning 30 hours over the last nine months. Trump approved the interviews but doesn’t know what was talked about.

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo says that the midterm elections will be all about impeachment and it is getting closer.

Trump warned at a campaign-style rally in Indiana that he would “get involved” if the FBI and Justice Department don’t “start doing their job.” Speaking later at the event in Evansville, Trump suggested the leadership of the department and bureau were biased against Republicans and “people are angry.”

A Justice Department lawyer, Bruce Ohr, whose ties to the infamous dossier about Trump and Russia has drawn the ire of Republicans told House lawmakers that he was told Russian intelligence thought they had the then-candidate “over a barrel” during the 2016 campaign.

Dossier author Christopher Steele shared the information with him at a July 2016 breakfast. Ohr said that his wife, Nellie Ohr, who was a contractor for Fusion GPS — the firm that employed Steele to dig up dirt on Trump — also attended the breakfast.

Trump accused NBC News of altering the tape of an interview during which he cited the Russia investigation as a reason for why he fired James Comey as FBI director. In a series of tweets, Trump railed against the media and took aim at NBC, seeming to accuse the network of “fudging” an interview he gave about 18 months ago, just days after he abruptly fired James Comey as FBI director. Trump offered no proof of the claim. So why claim after 18 months the interview was “fudged” as the interview was released then.

Calling Comey a “showboat” and “grandstander” who led the agency into turmoil, Trump contradicted the White House and the explanation given in a termination letter for Comey’s firing, which said his dismissal was based on recommendations from Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But since the NBC interview last year, the president has denied that Comey’s firing was connected to the Russia investigation.

Trump’s legal team is preparing a report that will contain sections rebutting a series of potential conclusions special counsel Robert Mueller could reach in his eventual findings, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said. The report will include rebuttal sections on everything from collusion with Russia in the 2016 election to fired national security adviser Michael Flynn to obstruction of justice in order to be prepared for what may be included in Mueller’s expected report.

Trump tweeted out an untrue conspiracy theory about Google’s own search results being rigged against him. Trump accused Google and others of suppressing Conservative voices and even threatened to “address” the situation. But Trump’s whole theory is based on a flawed methodology. Anyone can see that Fox News ranks quite highly in Google search results about Trump.

Trump has been pushing for over a year to either renew or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA]. While the US and Mexico [who had big differences] seemed to settle the issues what was agreed upon is not binding. Even then, conflicting answers from various Mexican officials whether the two will/can go alone without Canada.

Trump said during an off-the-record conversation with Bloomberg News said that he would not make any compromises at all in the talks with Canada. The deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms.” He really wants the deal to fail. Trump said he would move ahead with a bilateral agreement with Mexico. Of course Trump has also said one thing but never follows up [easiest example is his threatened lawsuits].

He will sign a deal replacing NAFTA with or without Canada in 90 days. This is to get the deal before the Mexican President-Elect takes over. Congress could still block the deal. It’s unlikely any rewrite of NAFTA would come up for a vote until 2019. The governments of Canada and Mexico must also ratify the agreement. If they don’t, there’s no deal.

Trump and his minions have also said they would go alone with Mexico if Canada doesn’t sign on. Yet, Trump most likely legally can’t. Additionally many US politicians [including quite a few Republicans] are against a deal unless Canada is included. Some would create legislation that would bar Trump from going against Congress. Others say, constitutionally it is up to Congress to agree to any free trade agreement.

Canada is particularly concerned with how Chapter 19 of the original NAFTA — the dispute settlement mechanism that can be used to challenge anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases. The US has yet to win a challenge [and just lost another one related to news print very recently]. The potential new agreement would last 16 years with the option to open the agreement after 6 years.

GOP state Sen. Michael Williams [who is African-American] said he would not have an issue if Trump used the n-word in the past and argued that holding a president accountable for mistakes made before entering office would “set a bad precedent.” If that is true, does that mean he is in a different league than Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and others? While not the president [well Spacey was sort of!] why should Trump be any different. Does this mean that Trump gets a pass for his groping and other alleged things he did prior to being elected. If he killed someone and never convicted? Where is the line drawn.

Comedian Kevin Hart joked that anything could happen at the MTV Video Music Awards. “Things pop off, bad language, people run to the bathroom and send out crazy tweets,” he said. “It’s basically like your typical day at the White House.”

In Arizona primaries, Trump did not endorse any of the 3 candidates. The winner was a GOP establishment favorite. The other two [one is Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Maricopa County sheriff] are both considered a bit too to the right. Arpaio was pardoned by Trump for criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor just over a year ago.

Puerto Rico’s government officially raised the death toll from last year’s storm to 2,975, which surpasses that of both Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which is responsible for 1,833 deaths, and the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane in Florida, which killed 2,500 people. Until the recent update, Puerto Rico’s government had said only 64 people died as a result of the storm. The Trump administration initially still refuses to use the higher death toll.

Trump offered a still-rosy outlook of his administration’s handling of the hurricane Maria disaster. “I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” Trump said. Just days afterward the storm had resulted in a relatively small number of deaths, he compared Maria to a “real catastrophe like Katrina.” He also awarded himself a “10 out of 10” on disaster recovery efforts and said “Did we do a great job?”

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.