Trump signs first [of many] vetoes

In another busy week [is there ever a quiet week?], Donald Trump vetoed legislation attempting to strike down his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. It will be the first time in his two years in office that Trump has used his presidential veto power to block legislation. Not surprising this is the first time. His administration has had a problem passing anything even when the GOP controlled both the House and Senate.

It is unlikely that Congress will have the two-thirds majority required to override Trump’s veto, though House Democrats will try nonetheless on March 26.

So far, at least seven lawsuits have been filed challenging the declaration. The argument at the core of each lawsuit is similar: Trump exceeded his authority and circumvented Congress in an attempt to achieve his signature campaign promise for an emergency that, plaintiffs argue, doesn’t exist.

Trump tweeted shortly after the Senate passed the resolution condemning his unilateral action. “I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!” Ummm. A dozen Republicans voted against him. Not a good sign.

Trump and White House aides making clear to Republican senators that a vote against Trump on this issue would have ramifications come re-election time. Still, a White House official said Trump won’t forget when senators who opposed him want him to attend fundraisers or provide other help. More thuggery. Trump said he had sympathy for the Republicans who voted against him and emphasized that he never truly twisted the arms of lawmakers, because he knew there were not enough votes to override the veto.

The Senate delivered a high-profile rebuke to Trump over his signature agenda issue when 12 Republicans joined Democrats to overturn Trump’s national emergency border declaration. The vote was 59-41, an overwhelming vote against the Trump’s executive action. However it isn’t enough to block Trump’s veto which he will do.

Trump had hoped the number of “yes” votes will stay below 60, aides say, a symbolic margin that he believes would save some embarrassment, though still require him to use his veto pen. But he reversed when asked if he would support a proposal to limit future national emergency declarations to 30 days which he could agree to – just not this national emergency. A number of prominent GOP lawmakers are against the emergency including Mitt Romney and Susan Collins.

“Prominent legal scholars agree that our actions to address the National Emergency at the Southern Border and to protect the American people are both CONSTITUTIONAL and EXPRESSLY authorized by Congress,” Trump wrote. I wouldn’t mind knowing which prominent legal scholars he is referring to. And “authorized”? The House hasn’t and it looks like the Senate won’t.

[If this is such a national emergency, why didn’t he pushed for this national emergency when he was elected? What has changed? Nothing. it is his signature election promise and one of many he has failed to do in his 26 months of this “presidency”. He couldn’t get anything passed even when “his” party had a majority for the first two party and definitely won’t when the Democrats took over the House.]

The House of Representatives passed a resolution with 420 members voting in favor of the resolution and zero voting against it. The resolution is calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be released to the public once it is completed. The resolution is not legally binding. So 185 Republicans vote in favor. But Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham moved to block a non-binding resolution in the Senate.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will serve a total of seven and a half years in prison for two cases. The latest sentencing was for two charges: conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempting to tamper with witnesses.

“I have not even given it a thought as of this moment,” Trump said. “It’s not something now that’s on my mind.” Trump reiterated that he felt “badly” for his former aide.

After Manafort’s second sentencing, Trump said “Today, again, no collusion. The other day, no collusion.” Except the second sentencing had nothing to do with his collusion problems. Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing repeated Trump’s comments saying “So that makes two courts… Two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with the Russians.”

If Trump pardons Manafort for his federal convictions, the ex-lobbyist could still face years in jail on state charges that are beyond his reach.

Ex-acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker did not deny in a closed congressional meeting that he had spoken with Trump about a case involving Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen. This is involving Cohen’s allegation that a pardon had been dangled in exchange for him staying loyal to the President, in which he was purportedly told he could be sure he had “friends in high places.”

At best, such a conversation would appear inappropriate and unethical since the President is the country’s top law enforcement officer. At worst it could again raise suggestions that Trump may have obstructed justice.

An attorney who said he had been speaking with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani reassured Cohen in an April 2018 email that Cohen could “sleep well tonight” because he had “friends in high places.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would obey the law if he receives a written request from Congress to turn over Trump’s tax returns. “I will consult with the legal department within Treasury, and I will comply with the law.”

Republicans, who have argued that Trump has the right to privacy, quickly made clear they believe any request from Democrats wouldn’t be lawful — opening up the possibility of an extended fight over whether Mnuchin will hand over the returns if a request is made. Trump came the first major Presidential candidate in 2016 to refuse citing an ongoing audit. [That’s one long audit.] House Democrats have been preparing to ask the Internal Revenue Service for Trump’s tax returns under an obscure provision that gives the leaders of the House and Senate tax-writing committees the power to request taxpayer information from the Treasury Department. It states that “the secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.”

Trump says he does not see white nationalism as a rising threat around the world following an attack targeting Muslims in New Zealand that killed at least 49 people.

Trump was just doing what he [thought] could to raise spirits when he signed Bibles at an Alabama church for survivors of a tornado outbreak, many religious leaders say, though some are offended and others say he could have handled it differently. Other Presidents have signed Bibles but they were generally one offs and for special occasions.

Trump should have at least signed inside in a less ostentatious way according to some faith leaders. Others said he shouldn’t of signed them at all. One said “It almost felt like a desecration of the holy book to put his signature on the front writ large, literally.” Others said it could be seen as a blurring of church and state and an endorsement of Christianity over other religions.

Trump wants to sell the military. No not that way. There are 100+ country that have US military presence. Trump wants to charge countries for the manpower and resources plus a surcharge [to make a profit]. Judging by how much it costs to buy a screw, that will be one big bill! They did, however, said it would be on a case by case basis.

Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and brother of Betsy Devos, proposed a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan by turning military operations over to a mercenary force like his that wouldn’t be subject to Pentagon or civilian oversight and that would eventually fund itself by plundering the resources of the country. He sees that not only as a way of funding the occupation, but also as a way of making huge profits from the occupation of a foreign land. He envisages that as a template for future military adventures and seems to be in favor of deciding whether to engage in future oversees military operations not on the basis of US national interest concerns or human rights concerns but rather on the basis of whether a profit can be made. Not surprisingly, Trump seems to be in love with the idea.

Trump telling Breitbart News, “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump — I have tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point and then it would be very, very bad.” Well, he should have support for the military but for military purposes – not to become thugs and do his dirty job – like say beat up Trump’s critics. The same goes for the police. Both groups should be impartial. As for bikers, not surprised he’d want to be associated with most or at least some of them. While not all, quite a few bikers belong to criminal gangs.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration will deny or revoke visas for International Criminal Court staff. The move is meant to deter a potential investigation by the judicial body into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US troops in Afghanistan. The restrictions include “persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation.”

There is a legal phrase for this: Obstruction of justice. Something the administration is all too familiar with.

Over part of two tweets, Trump said “How do you impeach a man who is considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history, especially when he has done nothing wrong and impeachment is for “high crimes and misdemeanors”?” OK. You can stop laughing now. Seriously. Stop!

After the GOP tweeted “The NY Attorney General called President Trump an “illegitimate president.” She has proven to have a vendetta against @realDonaldTrump & is using her position of power to baselessly smear the President & the work he’s done for the American people,” Trump retweeted that and added “All part of the Witch Hunt Hoax. Started by little [former NY Attorney General] Eric Schneiderman & [Governor Andrew] Cuomo. So many leaving New York!” There were 19.85 million in New York state in 2017 and 19.88 million in 2018. Yup. Leaving in droves! [This was a second tweet after the first one was deleted because he couldn’t spell Cuomo’s name correctly.]

Let’s not forget the Trump still has properties in New York such as his trump Tower. You don’t see him leaving the state.

According to excerpts from the forthcoming book “Kushner Inc.” obtained by New York Times, Trump told former Chief of Staff John Kelly he wanted Ivanka and Jared Kushner gone. The White House is denying these reports, calling the book “completely false.” Boy this could been interesting the next time they see each other. “Is it true daddy?”

After the latest Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet crash Trump tweeted “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly,” Trump tweeted. “Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All this cost for very little gain.”

“I’m not an email person,” Trump said during a July 2016 news conference. “I don’t believe in it because I think it can be hacked” as if no Twitter accounts have been hacked ever. Is tweeting any better? You send out an Email, it does normally to a finite number of users. You tweet something, it does to everyone of your followers.

Trump is also a big supporter of Boeing and has been a salesman for them. Most recently during his trip to Vietnam last month where he oversaw the sale of 100 Boeing 737 MAX planes — 20 of those MAX 8 models — for $12.7 billion. Vietnam has put the order on hold until the reason for the crashes are identified.

Within 48 hours, Trump was forced to order the halting of the airplanes because after Canada grounded them, they weren’t flying anywhere except in the US and even passengers were worried about them.

After Trump accused “The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party,” press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders wouldn’t say whether Trump believes Democrats hate Jews, which is what he reportedly told Republican donors over the weekend at his Florida estate.

When Sanders claimed that the Democrats refusal to specifically condemn a freshman lawmaker for her controversial comments amounted to an “abhorrent” display, she was asked whether Trump condemned Rep. Steve King’s comments noting that King has a history of making what can be called racist comments but only recently stripped of various committee postings. She deflected the question. The Democrats did condemn the freshman who also apologized.

Trump also claimed that Jews are switching to the Republican party. Of course various polls from the past few elections say that Jews vote for the Democrats anywhere between 70% and 80% of the time.

A vote this week on Yemen was the first time Congress invoked the decades-old War Powers Act to try to rein in a president. That resolution seeking to end US backing for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen was approved in the aftermath of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and is expected to be the subject of Trump’s second veto.

The Trump administration is proposing $2.7 trillion in spending cuts following a directive by Trump to reduce spending by 5% across federal agencies, except for defense spending, as part of its budget plan for fiscal year 2020, which begins on October 1. The Democrats already have said that Trump will not get the $8.6 billion he plans to request for the wall.

“President Trump added nearly $2 trillion to our deficits with tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, and now it appears his budget asks the American people to pay the price,” said Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee. “With severe cuts to essential programs and services that would leave our nation less safe and secure, the Trump budget is as dangerous as it is predictable.”

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted that Trump’s “record of accomplishment is why he’ll win re-election,” a significant difference from comments the he made earlier in the week where he described how he thought some Democrats could beat Trump in the 2020 election.

One of the very few items that Trump managed to check off on his platform list is sinking. Unless the Trump administration lifts the punishing tariffs it has imposed on Mexican steel and aluminum imports — duties it also imposed on Canada — Mexico is prepared to keep the status quo with the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump tweets “Republican Approval Rating just hit 93%. Sorry Haters!” From which poll he gives no data. So his “poll” [the one he invented in his mind] says 7% don’t like him. Still not good.

In 2011, Trump questioned whether President Obama was a born American in addition to his academic record. According to the Washing Post [and in recent testimony by Michael Cohen], days after he had threatened his high school, college and college board not to release his grades or SAT scores. In fact, Trump wanted all of his transcripts [which were on paper only] to be given to alumni Trump could trust.

In the more than two years since Trump took office, he has not hosted a women’s championship sports team for a solo event at the White House. WNBA teams were frequently invited to the White House during the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations. NCAA women’s basketball champion teams have visited the White House for the previous five administrations. The sole exception is of a November 2017 event honoring multiple NCAA championship teams.

Case in point: The North Dakota State Bison NCAA division 2 football team were at the White House and again they were served Big Macs, fried chicken sandwiches and other fast food on silver platters using fine china. “We could’ve had chefs, we could have, but we had fast food — because I know you people.”

Trump suggested the decision was aimed at supporting American business. “We like American companies, OK?” he said. Trump encouraged the team to “go and eat up,” noting that he would have a sandwich at the podium himself, but it would cause “too big a stir” with the reporters present. Ya. Sure Donnie.

In the computer department:

A researcher from France has detected in an app, nicknamed “Yelp for Conservatives”, was found with an open API [a set of functions and procedures allowing the creation of applications] leaking reams of user data without any real hacking. The developer said the app is designed “to keep conservatives safe as they eat and shop” has not taken kindly to the findings. He’s accusing the researcher of hacking his database and has threatened legal recourse.

The same researcher found another app called “Donald Daters” [coincidentally also pro-Conservative] which leaked users’ names, photos, personal messages and users’ authentication tokens. It is a MAGA-themed dating experience.

A recent polls says that 50% support Cohen, 35% support Trump.

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Trump’s national emergency challenged on all fronts

So far, sixteen states filed a lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. Led by the California Attorney General, it was filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia joined California in the lawsuit.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Border Network for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union also announced lawsuits. At the core of each lawsuit is the argument that Trump is circumventing Congress to fund the wall along the US-Mexico border by declaring an emergency.

Not surprising Trump tried to hit back at California after the lawsuit announcement by tweeting “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!” Trump of course exaggerates especially when a mile of the Trump Wall is expected to cost $25 million. No whining about the other 15 states?

Just 24 hours after California and 15 other states filed a lawsuit challenging Trumps “national emergency” that the Department of Transportation cancelled a nearly $1 billion grant for California to build a high speed rail line. The grant stipulated to build the rail line and said nothing about the rail cars that would be used. Trump used the words “fast train” in a tweet instead of the adult sounding “high speed rail”.

Right after declaring a national emergency, Trump went golfing.

House Democrats introduced a resolution to block Trump’s effort to build a wall on the southern border through his emergency powers, setting up votes in Congress to rebuke Trump’s proclamation. The Democratic-controlled House appears all but certain to pass the resolution Tuesday and put pressure on Republicans in the Senate, many of whom have concerns with Trump’s action.

Key members of the Trump administration pushed a plan to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia in the months after the inauguration despite objections from members of the National Security Council and other senior White House officials, according to a new report from congressional Democrats.

The 24-page report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee is based on internal White House documents and the accounts of unnamed whistle blowers. It said the objectors — including White House lawyers and National Security Council officials — opposed the plan out of concern that it violated laws designed to prevent the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons program.

Trump tweeted “Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught….. This was the illegal and treasonous “insurance policy” in full action!” Mr. Trump, what is the definition of the word treason?

McCabe recently came out with a memoir called “The Threat” and not surprising those in the Trump administration are fighting back the best they could. Not surprised they were calling McCabe a “disgrace”, a “liar”, Trump’s “illegal and treasonous”. Interesting how they were quiet before the book was released. The book’s release date was delayed because due to the lengthy pre-publication review process conducted by the Justice Department and FBI. I would guess that both of them didn’t have much objection to the content.

The White House argues that McCabe has no credibility because he is under criminal investigation for allegedly misleading investigators in their probe of the FBI’s handling of the investigation into the Clinton Foundation. But he suggested that an independent departmental report used as justification for his dismissal was improperly influenced by Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia [and related] investigation could be complete as early as next week. Attorney General William Barr may be preparing to announce the completion of the Russia investigation.

Rosenstein is expected to leave the Justice Department in mid-March, according to a Justice Department official. A departure next month could potentially serve as another signal that special counsel Robert Mueller’s work is coming to a close.

A judge has approved a request from Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to delay his date to report to prison from March 6 to May 6. In the request, Cohen’s lawyers cited his recent shoulder surgery and upcoming congressional testimony as reasons to delay the report date.

A report came out said that Trump called acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker late last year to ask whether it was possible that Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was recused from the case, could take over anyway.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office have prepared a criminal case against Paul Manafort in the event that he receives a presidential pardon. The New York state attorney general’s office has also been putting together a case against Manafort. Although double jeopardy laws generally prevent defendants from being prosecuted twice for the same offense, New York has a tax-related exemption.

The revolving door continues. White House officials have begun to have preliminary discussions about replacing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats amid concerns that Trump may soon dismiss him, despite Trump’s public denial he’s considering the move. Of course we have heard this before.

Trump said he intends to nominate the current American ambassador to Canada, Kelly Knight Craft, to be the new US ambassador to the United Nations. Craft would be replacing the popular [and one of the very few competent people under Trump’s nominees] Nikki Haley. Trump’s announcement comes a week after his first pick to replace Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew her candidacy.

You would figure that the Trump Wall would be built near the actual border but in some cases the Trump Wall could be as far as a half a mile away from the actual from the border turning the land between the actual border into no-man’s land.

Actor Alec Baldwin reprised his Trump impersonation for an “SNL” skit that recreated the president’s speech about the border, the budget, and assorted other subjects. Then Trump’s tweet asked “How do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into.”

Peter Baker of The New York Times noted on Twitter that “no other president in decades publicly threatened ‘retribution’ against a television network because it satirized him.” In the past, Trump has also suggested that NBC station licenses should be challenged, without any evident follow-up.

After Trump’s tweet, Baldwin tweeted, “I wonder if a sitting President exhorting his followers that my role in a TV comedy qualifies me as an enemy of the people constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?”

Mike Pence was in Munich for a security conference when Pence announces “I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump”. Now Pence paused for about 5 seconds or so, expecting to get some applause but none [noticeable] came. Awkward!

Meanwhile, also speaking at the same Conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called out the Trump administration over Trump’s claim that German cars pose a security threat. Merkel says a large chunk of BMW cars are built in the US. Ivanka Trump was at the conference.

Puppet, Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that “The President far and away was the better candidate. He had a better message and he outworked Hillary Clinton. That’s why he’s President. He didn’t need to, nor did he, collude with the Russians.” She might as well record what she wants to say to save her voice.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to deny that he nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in helping to ease tensions with North Korea. Do you blame him? Trump has claimed week that Abe had submitted the nomination to the Nobel committee. A Japanese newspaper reports that Abe made the recommendation after the US government “informally” sought his support for the prestigious award in the wake of the historic US-North Korean summit in Singapore last June. Trump made frequent references to the Nobel peace prize, saying in May last year that “everyone thinks” he deserves it.

Trump recently criticized European allies for not taking back their own captured citizens. Many countries are reluctant to repatriate them because of the difficulty of prosecuting suspected ISIS members based on evidence collected on the battlefield, causing frustration among US national security officials.

Some 59 Americans are believed to have joined the Islamic State, and 13 have faced terror-related charges after being returned to the US. Many more are believed to have died on the battlefield. Us citizens are small in numbers compared to the UK and France who have hundreds who went to fight.

Trump said that he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to allow Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who left in November 2014 to join ISIS, to return to the United States — despite her recent public plea to come back and stand trial in America.

“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Under US law Muthana would be a US citizen by nature of her birth in the country, though the State Department could argue that her claim to citizenship is flawed because of the immigration status of her parents at the time of her birth. A family representative of Muthana showed her birth certificate to the press.

[Personally, she should be allowed back in the US to stand trial. You can’t remove someone’s citizenship for someone born in the country – especially without any type of legal proceedings. A court should decide her citizenship. Trump and Pompeo have no right to do this. Soon, they will use this tactic to toss out US born citizens for robbing a bank or maybe just a speeding ticket.]

Muthana filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, to prevent what he calls an “unlawful attempt” by the United States to rescind his daughter’s citizenship. The lawsuit filed by her father “seeks injunctive relief preventing the United States government from unconstitutionally robbing [Muthana and her son] of their rights as United States citizens.”

Regarding the Jussie Smollett “scandal”, Trump got in the act [surprised?] by tweeting “@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” The so-called attackers were Trump supporters after the attack. This coming from a man who has made racist comments to just about anyone not part of his base supporters.

Is it an emergency?

Is it really an emergency?

So Donald Trump declares a nation emergency. Trump even admitted it in his Rose Garden speech when announcing this so-called national emergency that he didn’t have to. But he did. Why?

Creating the Trump Wall was one of his signature promises when he was running for President and even after he was elected – but part of that was Mexico paying for it. Looks like Mexico won’t. At this point in time, has he actually succeeded in 2 of his promises: reducing taxes for corporations and individuals. But those are generally no brainers. You don’t want to tell your constituents that you don’t want to lower their taxes.

His others were to repeal the Affordable Care Act [a.k.a. Obamacare] and suspend immigration from terror-prone places with both haven’t happened. In the former, he did kill small pieces. In the case of the latter, it failed because of the way it was done.

So, he went to the next “easiest” target, the Trump Wall. The Trump Shutdown delayed him with securing funding for the Trump Wall. When he saw he was not getting his funding to build about 220 miles of his fall [fall short of actually funding a full wall across the US – Mexican border], he [and his cronies] then hinted he would declare a national emergency to get the remaining amount of money and then some.

[BTW, if you do the calculation on the legislatively approved $1.375 billion, each mile will cost $25 million. Ouch.]

But he has been hinting of a national emergency for a few weeks now.

So exactly what changed in the past few weeks? Did hundreds of migrants bulldozed their way through the border? Not that I’ve heard of. Did hundreds crawl through an underground tunnel? No news on that.

So why wasn’t this national emergency announce a month ago? Two months ago? Three?

Maybe Trump saw the writing on the wall. After the Republicans were nearly decimated in the mid-term elections, Trump lost his chance to pass legislation in the House and unless he watered it down to make the Democrats happy and his support base won’t allow that.

Meanwhile, the amount of legal action against national emergency is piling up. You have some Republicans against it. Of course probably all Democrats are against it.

The Democrats in the House are using various legislative rules to block the national emergency. It will pass there but there isn’t enough Republicans disagreeing with it to override Trump’s veto option of anything to try and kill the national emergency.

Add various states and interest groups such as the American Civil Liberty Union and others who will file lawsuits.

Trump has even said that he expects the various lower courts siding against him. But he thinks the Supreme Court will side with him even though there are four left leaning judges who will definitely rule against it and need just one judge to shoot down the national emergency.

Trump, in his Rose Garden speech, said he didn’t have to do it. So why did he? I’m sure you have the answer.

The US goes into uncharted territory

Congressional negotiators say they have reached an agreement in principle to avert a partial government shutdown at the end of this week. But the agreement falls short of Donald Trump’s required $5.7 billion to build the Trump Wall. In fact, the deal is for [just] $1.375 billion or 55 miles or a whopping $25 million per mile.

The number of beds administrated by ICE would drop to 40,520 [interesting number] from currently at 49,057. Republicans want 52,000 and the Democrats wanted in the low 30,000s.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did manage to avert the political disaster of a new Trump Shutdown by securing a pledge that Trump would sign a federal funding bill that lacks all the money for his Trump Wall.

But Trump announced a declaration of national emergency, which he would use to reallocate money for a total of $8 billion in government money to fund the Trump Wall.

If the move is not permanently blocked by the courts it could also come back to haunt Republicans, since it could provide a precedent for a future Democratic president to enact liberal priorities on an executive whim.

Already some states’ attorney generals are preparing to go to court. Trump already believes he will lose in the lower courts only to win at the Supreme court. He’ll be shocked when he loses but then will blame anybody and everybody but himself – as usual.

McConnell was forced to back off his previous opposition to declaring a national emergency in order to get Trump to sign the funding bill. Trump is to grab money from the Department of Defense, which doesn’t require approval from Congress.

“We have so much money we don’t know what to do with it,” Trump said. “I don’t know what to do with all the money they’re giving us.” That’s the $1.375 billion – not what he is siphoning [probably] illegally.

Prior to the agreement, Trump says he doesn’t expect another Trump Shutdown, but added if there is one, it’s the “Democrats’ fault.” He is obviously not happy with the deal. A few of his closest allies in Congress plus his some of his cronies at Fox News [maybe his real advisors] have come out against the deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to invoke a clause in the 1976 National Emergencies Act that permits Congress to seek to terminate a President’s declaration that McConnell appears to have no power to stop from coming to the floor in the Senate.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that declaring a national emergency would be a “lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency…. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”

Note that the constitution states that it is Congress that is to handle monetary issues – not the President.

About 66% of Americans said in a poll released earlier this month that Trump should not declare a national emergency to build the Trump Wall. And only 64% of Republicans thought Trump should go ahead — a figure far lower than Trump’s approval numbers with GOP voters.

Trump also lamented that he wasn’t able to build the Trump Wall earlier in his presidency, blaming others. “Would’ve been great to do it earlier, but I was a little new to the job,” he said. “People did not step up – would’ve been easy, not easy, but it would’ve been a lot easier, but some people didn’t step up,” Trump said, apparently referring to the once-Republican controlled House. He likes to repeat himself.

Trump defended his decision to pull funds from the Department of Defense military construction budget in order to build Trump Wall, claiming that “Some of the generals think this is more important … far more important than what they were going to use it for,” Trump said. “It didn’t sound too important to me.”

“When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all through the port of entry. It’s wrong. It’s just a lie. It’s all a lie. They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100%,” Trump said. Except the Democrats got it from government departments and security agencies.

National emergencies can last for one year and then terminate – unless the President renews the declaration 90 days prior.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that it will file a lawsuit challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero saying “By the president’s very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall ‘faster.'”

Whatever you say on social media can bite you in the butt. For example, in November 2014, in which Trump tweeted, “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.” This was when Obama was to use an national emergency to fix an issue. “Now he has to use executive action and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court,” added Trump.

So what President Obama did 4+ years ago was not good in his opinion, but what he did is good?

In his immigration speech in the Rose Garden, Trump claimed that “two weeks ago, 26 were killed in a gunfight on the border a mile away from where I went.” Mexican authorities found a grisly scene that they described as a gang clash but the bodies were found near the Mexican town of Miguel Aleman, located nearly 130 miles northwest from McAllen.

As well, Trump said, “A big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry.” About 90% of heroin seized at the border in the 2018 fiscal year was apprehended at ports of entry. The majority of meth is also detained at the border. In 2018, CBP seized 67,292 pounds of meth at legal ports of entry, compared with 10,382 pounds by Border Patrol agents in between ports, based on available data.

Trump said “You know, we already have national emergencies out there. you know President Obama, President Clinton, President Bush they’ve declared many national … this is not unique….” Except those were real reasons like 9/11 – not an imaginary issue created by him to get his only major campaign promise completed.

One of the sticking points in the shutdown negotiations is the number of detained migrants that can be held at a time. The Democrats want a cap on the amount. The Republicans are refusing saying that the proposal would allow “violent criminals to be released”. But in a statement from the Democrats “This cap will force the Trump administration to prioritize arresting and deporting serious criminals, not law-abiding immigrants.”

[I can see why a cap is needed. The amount of detained migrants which will cost extra resources [security, food, detention centers, immigrant officials, etc.].

Trump tweeted “They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” Which basically means he thinks all migrants are convicted violent criminals. The cap isn’t the only issue stalling the funding process but Trump thinks it is.

Trump continued tweeting “It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown.” While the Virginia mess is a mess, none of what he said otherwise is valid. Even his SoTU address wasn’t a success and the economy is beginning to stall.

Republican and Democratic negotiators are exchanging border security proposals that contain far less funding for the border wall than Trump has demanded, with just days left before a deadline to release their bill ahead of another potential government shutdown. The latest proposals peg the topline funding number for border barriers around $2 billion. Trump has said before that he won’t accept anything less than $5.6 billion – however he caved in to stop the first Trump Shutdown. So anything is possible.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said “He [Trump] would be out of his mind and irresponsible. I think the President has no choice. If he is the least bit sane and responsible.” But “if the President illegally seizes power to reallocate money, he is violating the constitution and his oath of office and the Congress should act accordingly.”

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is confirming for the first time publicly that there were high-level discussions at the Justice Department about recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office in the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey’s firing. The Justice Department has denied involvement.

The White House called McCabe’s investigation “completely baseless.” Trump, who has frequently criticized McCabe, called him a “disgrace” on Twitter and accused him of being politically biased during his time at the FBI. [That’s par for the course. Trump says that about anyone who goes against him.]

The Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general. This will be Barr’s second tour as attorney general; he led the Justice Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. He takes over a department that Trump has repeatedly criticized for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr said he would not let Trump make corrections to the report before a possible publication, and promised to protect the investigation until its finish. Trump himself was upset as he watched television coverage of his nominee for attorney general describing a warm relationship with the special counsel Robert Mueller in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unsure why. Barr told him in 2017 he knew Mueller and his wife. Trump nominated Barr last year.

Paul Manafort “intentionally” lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, breaking the plea agreement that made him the star cooperator in the Russia probe, a federal judge found. Manafort “made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation,” including his contacts with his Russian associate during the campaign and later.

Mueller’s team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders. It was conducted late last year, around the same time as the special counsel interviewed then-White House chief of staff John Kelly. One likely area of interest was how Sanders composed statements she made on the podium defending the President regarding the Russia investigation.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings says that his panel has obtained information that calls into question previous statements made by attorneys representing Trump to federal officials about 2016 hush-money payments to keep an alleged Trump extramarital affair under wraps. Cummings’ committee has obtained new documents showing that Trump’s personal attorney Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino “may have provided false information” when they were questioned by federal ethics officials about hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The Justice Department is investigating the leak last year of confidential reports about Michael Cohen’s personal bank records which led to revelations that the former Trump lawyer was profiting by selling his access to the White House. Meanwhile Cohen’s congressional testimony has been postponed for a third time.

Joseph Votel, the top American general in the Middle East, who has been leading the war against ISIS said that he disagreed with Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned that the terror group was far from defeated, in a stark public break with Trump. Votel also said that the US-backed forces on the ground in Syria were not ready to handle the threat of ISIS on their own.

“By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be President,” Democratic presidential candidate Elisabeth Warren said to voters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.” Earlier in the day she said “Every day, there’s a racist tweet, a hateful tweet, something really dark and ugly,” Warren said of Trump. I’m expecting Trump will react his usual way.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Trump’s eldest son, Donald, made light over the weekend of the US government’s history of genocide against Native Americans as part of a slam against Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her claims of American Indian heritage. Donald Trump Jr.’s comment on social media was in response to a tweet from his father, who attacked Warren and emphasized the word “trail” in a tweet widely construed to be a mocking reference to the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans which led to thousands of deaths.

Trump tweeted “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”

Trump. Jr later captioned his tweet by saying “Savage!!! Love my President.”

While not a Republican hot bed, Trump decided to have a rally in El Paso. He claims that the border wall that was previously built has meant huge cuts in the city’s violent crime. Trump did not mention the agreement – which may not be a good thing.

As his crowd belted out “Build the wall” — Trump tried to grope for a way out: “You really mean ‘finish that wall,’ because we have built a lot of it.” Except the portions of the wall prior to his election were fixed a bit but there has been no new wall built since 2017.

Trump claims that the arena for the rally holds 8,000 and the fire department let in an extra 2,000 while as many as 57,000 [!!!] were outside watching on big screens. [He later claimed there was 35,000 – what happened to the other 34,000? Died? Left?] The El Paso fire department says the arena hold just 6,500 with at most another 3,500 outside and they wouldn’t allow more people than the arena could accommodate. He then went on to claim that Democrat Beto O’Rourke [who was holding a rally nearby] had 200 people or 300 people or 50 people [he said all 3 in his speech].

Trump personally paid to have a “golf simulator” installed in the White House residence that allows him to play virtual rounds of golf but has not yet used the new system, which cost about $50,000 and was installed in the last several weeks. [His new “executive time” option.]

Remember at the end of 2017, the Trump administration pushed out sweeping tax reforms where everyone would get lower tax rates – which should mean higher tax refunds? The new rules lowered most individual rates and nearly doubled the standard deduction. But the average refund is down about 8% under the first full year of the overhauled tax code, according to data released by the IRS. Some experts expect to see a drop in the economy because of the lower refunds.

When asked if he would ever get a dog, Trump said “I don’t know … I don’t feel good. Feels a little phony, phony to me”. Trump said “a lot of people” have encouraged him to get a dog, saying “it’s good politically.” Nearly 4 in 10 households, or 38 per cent, owned at least one dog, the highest estimated rate of dog ownership since 1982. I wonder how dog owners will react to his “phony” comment.

Another sign of how economy is doing under the Trump administration is Payless shoes closing their 2,100 US stores and an estimated 10,000 employess will be out of a job. Unknown what will happen to the 1,500 location worldwide and maybe 8,000 employees.

The real national emergency

While the shutdown is on hold, Trump has suggested that he would initiate a national emergency to get the money to build his Trump Wall because no wall is a security threat to the country. After the announcement that the Trump Shutdown has gone on a three week break, Trump stressed that if Congress can’t decide on what to do with his wall, he may make it a national emergency.

But there is a bigger threat to security: the Trump Shutdown.

Every day if the shutdown continued, workers were going unpaid and some are calling in sick [or equivalent].

For example, the Air Traffic Controllers in New York. They are short staffed. A controller can work a maximum of 6 ten hour shifts a week [generally 4 shifts a week] and most are coming close to the maximum and still unpaid.

On top of that, approximately 40% of the staff is at an point where they could retire from the job and receive their full pension.

Controllers have a stressful job. Adding no pay and more hours adds to the stress. While some government employees have taken a second job [legally an issue], controllers can’t.
Add to others who are not getting paid but have to work [or maybe not] such as those in the FBI, TSA [security officials at airports], etc.

This past week, there were major flight delays in Newark, LaGuardia in New York and in Philadelphia because there weren’t enough TSA agents.

If there is a national emergency, these would be reasons for it – not a wall.