The circus continues to implode

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced at a press conference that she is asking House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to proceed with articles of impeachment. Articles of impeachment represent a key next step in the impeachment inquiry. The Constitution explains that offenses that could prompt impeachment are treason, bribery or “other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

House Intelligence Committee Democrats have released their report detailing how Donald Trump sought political gain through his dealings with Ukraine. The report from the House Intelligence Committee makes the Democrats’ case for impeachment includes exhibits and phone logs. The report will also compare Trump’s lack of cooperation with Congress with the cooperation in past administrations to argue that Trump has engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.

The committee is expected to vote to approve it on Tuesday evening to send it to the House Judiciary Committee, where it is expected to serve as the basis of articles of impeachment that would be drafted by that panel in the coming days.

Neither Trump nor his attorneys will participate in the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing. In a letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House counsel to Trump, Pat Cipollone said, “We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the President a fair process through additional hearings…. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.”

Cipollone accused Nadler in the letter of “no doubt purposely” scheduling the hearing while Trump will be at a NATO meeting in London. Cipollone said they would respond separately to the next deadline about their participation in future hearings.

Trump said that if House Democrats are going to impeachment him they should do it “now” and “fast” so he can have a “fair” trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump also said he wanted Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and the Bidens to testify at a Senate trial.

First, the Republican controlled Senate will vote most likely on party lines with maybe a couple of “normal” Republicans voting against him but not enough to impeach. With maybe the exception of Hunter Biden there is no need for the others to testify. That would be a “witch hunt” or just fishing for potential damaging information. In any case, he will be the fourth President to go through impeachment proceedings which isn’t great for his ego. [Or maybe it is. Makes him unique.] “We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to ‘Clean the Swamp,’ and that’s what I am doing!” If he was cleaning the “swamp”, wouldn’t those individuals be gone from the government after 3 years? Exactly what has he done in his cleaning?

Trump wants a fast trial now because he thinks by the time the elections come around no one will remember it – yet i think the Democrats will remind voters. And if the Republicans said that he wasn’t impeached., the Democrats will say it’s not surprising when all the Republicans Senators didn’t cross the aisle.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement today criticizing Pelosi’s decision to move forward with articles of impeachment, saying that Pelosi’s announcement “moves this Country toward the most partisan and illegitimate subversion of the Constitution in our history.” This from a constitution “expert”. Other White House officials and leading Republicans had similar comments.

Republicans have given a full-throated defense of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine in a 123 page report that rejects the Democratic allegations that the President abused his office or committed any other impeachable offense. Democratic committee will release a report that’s expected to lay out charges likely to form the basis for potential articles of impeachment.

Not surprisingly, the report largely ignores or downplays testimony from career officials who raised serious questions and concerns about the conduct of Trump and some of his top aides. Also not surprising is that the report give alternative versions or excuses for certain information.

At the NATO meetings, Trump said “Maybe I’ll deal with them [those who’s GDP is under 2%] from a trade standpoint. Maybe I’ll deal with them in a different way… we don’t want to have people be delinquent.” So more tariffs coming. He is policing an organization that he hinted on leaving at one point. He also claimed the US is giving 4.3% of its GDP to NATO when the last check a few months ago was 3.4%.

During an event at the NATO conference, a CBC camera picked up some of the audio where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appear to share a laugh over Trump’s behavior. Johnson asking Macron why he was late. Macron’s response is inaudible but he can be seen nodding as Trudeau says, “He was late because he takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top.”

Trump’s first public reaction showed he was unhappy with that video surfacing, responding to a reporter’s question by calling Trudeau “two-faced.” He did this during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump adding “honestly with Trudeau he’s a nice guy… The truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said adding “he should be paying 2% and that Canada “has money.” He didn’t go after the other leaders.

Trump decided to have a working lunch with the leaders of all NATO countries who have met or exceeded their 2% defense commitment. It is actually a small group consisting of US, UK, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria. UK’s Boris Johnson couldn’t attend. Unsure what 9 countries can do on their own.

When someone that Trump has previously met is in trouble, Trump claims “I don’t know him”. Case in point, “I don’t know Prince Andrew, but it’s a tough story,” Trump said in London during a press appearance on the sidelines of the NATO summit. “I don’t know him, no.” And yet, how could he not know the Price, let alone the picture from June 2019?

Or maybe him with Melania and the Prince in 2000?

Trump told reporters in London that the signing of a US-China trade deal is entirely at his discretion, and indicated that an agreement may not come until 2020 – or later. “I have no deadline,” he said. “In some ways I think it’s better to wait for after the election, if you want to know the truth.” US stock futures turned negative after Trump’s comments, and yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond plunged.

Trump also told reporters that he would “stay out” of the UK election, but then he endorsed Boris Johnson and wading into a huge spat over Britain’s National Health Service.

Here we go again. Trump got nothing better to do on the way to the NATO meetings in London when he decided to announce that Argentina and Brazil will be hit with tariffs on aluminum and steel because they are “manipulating” their currencies. Both Brazil and Argentina were exempted from 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs last year when Trump was attempting to avoid a trade war with those countries. So unsure what tariffs he would “restore” when he said “I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries”.

Trump has promised to reinvigorate US steel jobs, but last year, the steel industry added 2,400 jobs, an increase of just over 1%. Employment in the industry is still down about 43% since 1990. Oh. Both countries replaced the US as China imports soybeans from them after China hit the Us with tariffs on soybeans.

Trump said next year’s G7 summit will be held at Camp David. This surprised Trump’s aides who were surprised of the announcement. [So what else is new.] In October, Trump announced that next year’s G7 economic summit of world powers would be held at his own Trump National in Doral, Florida. But just over 48 hours later, he abruptly reversed course and said the summit would not be held at the resort.

After Kamala Harris dropped out of the Democratic nominee for President, Trump tweeted “Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!” she responded with “Don’t worry, Mr. president. I’ll see you at your trial.”

Seems US farmers are capitalization heavily on the bailout from the government. According to six academic studies, Trump’s $28 billion farm bailout may be paying many growers more than the trade war with China has cost them. Based on what the studies show, the damages were about half that.

A team of researchers estimated the trade conflict depressed US soybean prices by only 36 cents per bushel in its first year, a period in which the bailout program paid soybean growers more than four times that: $1.65 per bushel.

The USDA forecast last week net farm income will rise more than 10% this year to $92.5 billion, with additional government aid accounting for all of the increase in profits. Almost 40% of projected U.S. farm profits this year will come from trade aid, disaster assistance, federal subsidies and insurance payments.

George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne The Witch Conway, escalated his criticism of Trump by using a tweet from his wife to assail her boss over the continuing fallout from the House impeachment inquiry. After Kellyanne Conway tweeted that former Vice President Joe Biden is “Creepy” and asked, “We need Ukraine’s help to defeat THIS guy?” George Conway quoted her post with a terse response: “Your boss apparently thought so.”

A 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals court in New York said the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives may subpoena Trump’s bank records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Trump sued to block a subpoena to Deutsche Bank and Capital One seeking financial records for Trump, his family and his business. A lower court judge denied Trump’s request for a preliminary injunction and Trump appealed the ruling.

Trump then asked the Supreme Court to block a subpoena for his financial documents, arguing that the House exceeded its authority when it ordered Trump’s long time accounting firm to turn over his personal records. Pelosi called it “an obstruction of justice.”

Trump contradicted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo [which seems to be often] when he told the press in London that he doesn’t back Iranian protestors, despite Pompeo saying last week that the US does support the protestors. Trump then clarified his earlier comments on Iranian protesters, saying, “We do support them totally and have supported them from the beginning.”

Trump called Schiff “a deranged” and a “very sick man”. This is what the so-called President of the United States calls a politician who does not agree with his views. Very childish.

YouTube has prevented Trump from running 300 ads on its platform this election season, its CEO acknowledged, but didn’t say why. But the exact reasons for the decisions are unclear, once again raising questions about the policies of YouTube and its parent company Google.

The Trump administration unveiled a final rule that will require more food stamp recipients to work in order to receive benefits. The new requirement limits states’ ability to waive existing work mandates and could result in 688,000 people losing assistance.

Another proposed regulation, which would tighten the rules governing who qualifies for aid, could end up stripping more than 3 million people of their benefits and leave nearly 500,000 children without access to free school meals.

A poll conducted by the Economist/YouGov that found 53% of Republicans said that Donald Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln was. [OK. You can stop laughing now.]

Trump’s 2020 campaign announced that it will no longer credential Bloomberg News reporters for its events after the outlet said it would not conduct investigations into the Democratic presidential candidates, but would continue to probe the Trump administration. Bloomberg News announced that it would not investigate the Democratic presidential candidates after its owner, Mike Bloomberg, jumped into the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump throws Giuliani under the bus

[And drives over him a few times.]

Donald Trump has now denied that he directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine and seek out investigations on his behalf, contradicting his own words to the Ukrainian President in the White House-released transcript of the July 25 call. Trump also contradicted sworn testimony from members of his administration and claims from his own White House acting chief of staff.

“No, I didn’t direct him, but he’s a warrior, Rudy’s a warrior,” Trump added. “Rudy went. He possibly saw something. But you have to understand, Rudy (has) other people that he represents.”

But “My understanding was that the President directed Mr. Giuliani’s participation, and that Mr. Giuliani was expressing the concerns of the President,” was what US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt… So we followed the President’s orders.”

There are reports that Giuliani pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from officials in Ukraine at the same time that he was using his connections there to unearth damaging information about the Bidens. While the deals weren’t consummated, the revelations are important because, first, they undercut Giuliani’s repeated claim that he has no business in Ukraine, and second, they suggest Giuliani was preying on potential clients in Ukraine who were desperate for stronger ties to the United States and his main client, Trump.

Some no-name name, Mark Sandy, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testified earlier this month that he was told US security assistance to Ukraine had been held up because of Trump’s concerns that other countries were not giving enough. How many other excuses will come out?

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said that the aid was withheld to encourage Ukraine to investigate possible interference in the 2016 presidential election on October 17th. Trump said on November 27th in a tweet that “I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country.” Nothing about other countries.

Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before the House of Representatives, which has been trying to force his appearance since April over Robert Mueller’s findings that suggest Trump obstructed justice in the Russia investigation. Jackson dismissed the President’s claim that McGahn was subject to blanket immunity.

The House Judiciary Committee is setting a deadline of December 6 for Trump to decide whether his attorneys will participate in the committee’s impeachment proceedings against him. The letter to Trump and a separate letter sent to Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Doug Collins of Georgia were largely technical, referring to the rules established by the House’s impeachment resolution last month.

But the letter starts the clock for the White House to decide if it will take part in the House’s impeachment proceedings — which Trump and congressional Republicans have claimed are unfair — or wait until a potential Senate trial to make its case directly to Congress.

Trump announced in October that “we’ve come to a very substantial Phase One deal” which reportedly includes getting the Chinese to agree to a numerical amount of US agricultural purchases in exchange for reducing tariffs. Weeks later, they were close to a Phase One deal, but it has yet to materialize. He said last week that we were “potentially very close,” to an agreement.

Meanwhile, the trade war is having an economic impact on both the US and China — as well as globally. Trump is due to hike tariffs on December 15 [in under 3 weeks] on a lot of Chinese consumer goods. Do you think there was ever a “Phase ONE”?

Trump signed a law supporting Hong Kong’s months-long protest movement, handing anti-government demonstrators in the semi-autonomous Chinese city a moral victory and likely complicating trade negotiations with Beijing. The new law will require the US to annually confirm that Hong Kong’s special freedoms are being maintained by Beijing — failure to do so could result in Washington withdrawing the city’s special status, a massive blow to the Hong Kong economy.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the law “seriously interferes in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s domestic politics…. It has seriously violated international law and basic rules of international relations,” the statement added. “Such plainly bullying behavior is firmly opposed by the Chinese government and Chinese people.”

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was “fired for proposing a secret agreement with the White House” involving the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher was convicted of bringing discredit to the armed services after posing next to a dead ISIS fighter’s body, which is against regulations. He was then demoted in rank — a decision Trump a week ago reversed in a move that angered military officials.

Military officials then moved ahead with the process to review Gallagher’s status in the elite group. Spencer was proposing a review with a secret guarantee that Gallagher would be allowed to keep his status as a Navy SEAL and supposedly was not fired for failing to carry out Trump’s wishes, because Trump had not wanted a review at all.

The Trump administration has moved to substantially cut its contribution to NATO’s collective budget. Previously the US provided some 22% of NATO’s direct funding, which covers the cost of maintaining the NATO headquarters, joint security investments and some combined military operations.

US defense officials are saying that the Trump administration sought to reduce its contribution to about 16%, bringing it in line with Germany’s, which provides 14.8% despite the US having a larger economy. Trump has long slammed NATO allies for not meeting the 2% NATO defense spending target. Member countries have boosted defense spending considerably in recent years, something Trump has claimed credit for.

After quite a few deaths early this year related to vaping where Trump promised to do something about it. Months later and nothing has happened – just like the promises that were dropped for oil, coal, tobacco, firearms, etc. These all have huge lobby groups that mostly support the Republican party.

A long-serving military officer put it bluntly saying “there is a morale problem,” and senior Pentagon officials have privately said they are disturbed by the Trump’s behavior. Dismay in the Pentagon has been building over Trump’s sporadic, impulsive and contradictory decision-making on a range of issues, including his sudden pullback of troops in Syria.

But now there are new and significant worries, as multiple military officials and retired officers say Trump’s intervention into high-profile war crimes cases cannot be ignored. Now senior Pentagon officials believed it would undermine military discipline and order. Trump had upped the ante at a rally by issuing an extraordinary declaration that he took action in the face of “deep state” opposition.

In the “What is he smoking?” department: Energy Secretary Rick Perry, an evangelical Christian, said “You know, Barack Obama doesn’t get to be the President of the United Sates without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump.”

Trump recognized Conan, the hero dog who was injured during a raid which led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, at the White House on Monday. Conan had received a “medal and a plaque.” Vice President Pence, a dog handler and Melania Trump [who didn’t seemed to be thrilled and who was standing a bit farther to the side] were there. Let’s hope Conan didn’t shake Trump’s paw.

Twitter announced that it would allow users to disable SMS two-factor authentication (2FA) and instead use a physical security key or a one-time code authenticator app. Until now, Twitter users who wanted to use 2FA were required to provide a phone number and enable SMS 2FA. I’m sure Trump doesn’t use 2FA – he may not even know what it is.

Is there something wrong with Trump?

[Well aside from the usual.]

Wow! The last nearly 2 weeks have put the Trump administration and the stock markets on a lengthy roller coaster.

Beijing unveiling a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods placing tariffs of 5% or 10% on US imports starting on September 1st, according to a statement posted by China’s Finance Ministry. This round affects beef, oil, soya beans, nuts, cream, turkey, and chemicals.

A second possible round on December 1st would affect coffee, corn, vehicles, whiskey wood, doors, etc.

The Ministry also announced plans to resume tariffs on US imports of automobiles and automobile parts. The tariffs would be 25% or 5%, and would take effect on December 15th. Recently, China said it would take countermeasures after Donald Trump announced it would impose 10% tariffs on Chinese imports worth $300 billion.

Not just as few hours after, Trump decided to increase current tariffs at 25% to 30%. Those at 10% will jump to 15%. The Dow Jones stock market – in just a short time – dropped more than 700 points after the announcement at one point. He claimed, in a tweet, that China’s tariffs are “politically motivated”. He ended his set of tweets with “Thank you for your attention to this matter!”

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said “It’s no surprise that China is slapping even more tariffs on American products. Every time Trump escalates his trade war, China calls his bluff — and why would we expect any differently this time around? And it’s no surprise that farmers are again the target.”

Trump said, “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” Trump can’t order American business to do anything as it is known as the “private sector”.

The Dow Jones had already dropped 300 points on the fear of another round of Trump tariffs. Trump also expressed anger at Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Powell in a speech today did not indicate if the central bank has plans for another interest rate cut. Trump has been calling for further cuts to rates.

Upsetting [saying it mildly] another ally, Trump tweeted “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.” Seriously? Frederiksen said the word “Absurd” for her answer.

Trump had accepted an invitation to visit Her Majesty Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark. Now it is a diplomatic snub that he has canceled the visit because of his vindictive pettiness. Trump confirmed his interest in buying the country, telling reporters at one point that Greenland is hurting Denmark. Doesn’t explain how – of course.

Oh it must be fun being a US ambassador in this administration.

Estimated minimum price to buy Greenland is over $1 billion, for 56,000 people and 9% unemployment. Add harsh conditions and plenty of ice. But it does have some untapped resources.

No shocker here [or I told you so]: Trump is reversing his stance on gun control. After the shootings he said “I’m looking to do background checks… I think background checks are important.”

Then he responded recently by saying “I don’t want people to forget that this is a mental health problem… It’s the people that pull the trigger. It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger… “I’m also very, very concerned with the Second Amendment”. These are basically the same phrases that the NRA has been pushing for. So you think that anything will happen?

“I had a very good meeting with Tim Cook,” Trump said in an interview. “I have a lot of respect for Tim Cook, and Tim was talking to me about tariffs. And one of the things, and he made a good case, is that Samsung is their number-one competitor, and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they’re based in South Korea.”

He also said that Apple “will be spending vast sums of money in the US. Great!” though he doesn’t appear to have mentioned any details of further US investment in his comments to reporters. He has said this before of more US investments in the past only to have nothing come out of it.

He has to remember that his policies are hurting American businesses. He is the one to blame for issues that American companies who are having issues with it. On the other hand, Apple has plenty of money and part of their problem is that their products have had slumps because of a combination of higher prices and poor quality control [think recently about keyboard and battery issues with their laptops].

Trump may in the end exclude Apple from getting hit with the tariffs. And so it unravels. He does it for one company and other American companies who have at least some manufacturing done in China will ask for the same treatment. Most of them may not be as wealthy as Apple.

“If I wanted to make a bad deal and settle on China, the market would go up. But it wouldn’t be the right thing to do,” Trump explained. “I’m just not ready to make a deal, China would like to make a deal, I’m not ready.” So his ego prefers the world end up in a recession.

Trump and his advisers insist their trade war with China won’t hurt American consumers. But analysts say otherwise. The tariffs Trump has already imposed on China are estimated to cost the average American household $600 per year, according to a report by JPMorgan Chase. That will rise to $1,000 if Trump carries through on his plan to levy tariffs on another $300 billion of US imports from China, the bank added.

Oh craps! Trump referred to himself as the “chosen one” while speaking on his role in the ongoing trade war between the US and China. Later he said “Nobody has done a job like I done.” He said at one point that China had the worst economic year in 50 year. Last week he said at one point it was 25 and then 37. How things change in a week or so.

Trump conceded that economies across the world are “not doing well like we are doing, the rest of the world, if you look at Germany, if you look at European Union, frankly, look at the UK, look at a lot of the countries, they are not doing well.” If the world’s largest economies [other than the US] re in a recession, then the US will follow.

Trump added that “most economists actually say we are not going to have a recession.” If you translate that, it usually means he asked one or two people who may know about the economy and generally agree with everything he says. Trump sent out some people to news channels to tell people everything is good with the economy.

Several senior White House officials have begun discussing whether to push for a temporary payroll tax cut as a way to arrest an economic slowdown revealing growing concerns about the economy among Trump’s top economic aides. But Trump says that the economy in the US is doing well?

As if Trump doesn’t have enough to complain about this week: “Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators.” Wonder what he is dreaming about this time.

This after saying “My proposal to the politically correct Automobile Companies would lower the average price of a car to consumers by more than $3000, while at the same time making the cars substantially safer. Engines would run smoother.”

Not to be out done, he then whined about the US share of the NATO budget versus everyone else.

Go figure. He is the president of the US and he is still complaining about the 2016 votes – 30+ months later. He tweeted “Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued.”

He was referring to a study by psychologist Robert Epstein [hmmm], which was discussed on Fox. Epstein himself says Trump was wrong about his findings. Epstein did find “bias” in Google search results, but he says there is no evidence Google “manipulated” the results to favor Hillary Clinton. Epstein said the pro-Clinton bias was “sufficient to have shifted between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes” to Clinton – not 16 million.

Epstein used a whopping 95 people from 24 states. That is research? For statistical purposes, this has a wide error. He also didn’t even publish his findings in a credible journal or web site that is related to his research. Epstein said he is “suspicious” that Google is deliberately biasing its results, given the Democratic leanings of its employees and the allegations of company “whistle blowers.” Epstein didn’t divulge who he supports.

Trump wants Russia back into the G7 [as the G8] in time for the 2020 meeting in the US. Trump claimed that President Barack Obama wanted Russia out of the group because “he got outsmarted.” He didn’t say how Obama was outsmarted, but you know Trump. Imaginary thing. Russia was suspended from the group after the majority of member countries united against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Trump held a lengthy phone call with his master, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre, recently. Now it looks like universal background checks are “off the table.” LaPierre reminded Trump how NRA members helped get him elected. No shock in Trump’s latest stance.

The Trump administration announced plans that could hold undocumented families detained together indefinitely, replacing the agreement that set a 20-day limit for holding children. The rule is meant to reduce the number of families trying to enter the US. Already this year, more than 430,000 family members have been arrested for crossing the southern border illegally, compared to around 100,000 for all of last year.

Then Trump said he is “seriously” considering ending US birthright citizenship despite the fact that such a move would face immediate legal challenge and is at odds with Supreme Court precedent. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees birthright citizenship and states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The White House has dropped its attempt to move forward with a controversial plan to eliminate up to $4 billion in funding to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. Previously, Trump misrepresented the developments that led Turkey to purchase the Russian system, blaming the Obama administration for the situation.

The Trump administration has sought to decrease what it believes is wasteful spending and make foreign aid more conditional on support for US policies. White House officials believed they had the authority to cancel the funds without congressional approval.

The Trump administration has formally withdrawn its $3.5 billion offer for Turkey to purchase a Patriot missile system in retaliation for Turkey’s receipt of the Russian-made S-400 missile system. The US has also ejected Turkey from the F-35 jet program, preventing Turkey from acquiring some 100 of the stealth jets and removing Turkish companies from the production chain.

It’s been 5.5 months since the last official White House press briefing. Stephanie Grisham, White House communications director and White House press secretary as well as communications director for Melania Trump, has yet to have a press briefing in the nearly 1.5 months in her new job.

Russian state TV says that Trump wants Russian to be part of the G8 because “he owes Russia” after the US recently tested a land based Tomahawk cruise missile. “He feels guilty or ashamed…. They miss us.”

Vladimir Poutine partially blamed the US for the recent accident there in testing new military hardware.

Wow! He finally did something right: He is eliminating all federal student loan debt owed by American veterans who are completely and permanently disabled. Took him over 2.5 years to do something right.

Trump is expected to select Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to replace Jon Huntsman [resignation is effective October 3] as US Ambassador to Russia. At least Sullivan has some diplomatic experience. He was passed over as Secretary of State when Rex Tillerson resigned though.

Talk of to boost his way sagging popularity that Trump may dump Vice President Mike Pence and replace him with former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley. She tweeted “Enough of the false rumors.”

Trump also quoted radio host and conspiracy theorist/nut-case Wayne Allyn Root who said “…like he’s [Trump] the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God….” Seriously?

After recent polling numbers from Fox, Trump wasn’t happy saying “Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it.” He believes that since Fox is the only right wing leaning large news organization, he should have better polling numbers with them – as if Fox manipulates polling data. But he always used them as his propaganda “arm”.

The post mid-term election blues

CNN’s White House reporter, Jim Acosta, who has had some previous “run ins” with Donald Trump had his “hard” press pass revoked.

Trump seemed to get upset when Acosta asked him about the invading caravans from Central America. Trump tried to stop him but Acosta continued to press on.

“White House staff don’t pull passes over personal pique, only over threats to the president,” professor Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project. But White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders claimed that Acosta grabbed a White House intern’s arm when the intern tried to grab the microphone away from Acosta.

The video shows that arms brushed. That was it. Sanders cited this alleged “inappropriate behavior” to suspend Acosta’s pass. Trump’s boosters used words like “pushed” and “slammed.” They screamed “assault” and “abuse.”

And who’s right?

Various reporters, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and The White House Correspondents’ Association sided with Acosta.

In June 2016, Trump told CNN in an interview that, if elected, he would not revoke credentials. At the White House, “it’s a different thing,” he said. “When I’m representing the United States, I wouldn’t do that.”

Trump claims Acosta was a reporter going back to the Reagan years. According to his biography on CNN, he seemed to start in the new business around 1998. Reagan was out in 1989. How does Trump know Acosta 20+ years ago – except maybe he likes to watch the news constantly.

With the mid-term elections over, special counsel Robert Mueller may be writing his final report. Trump made clear once again that  he believes the investigation is a waste of time and money. “It’s a disgrace, it should have never been started because there was no crime,” Trump said. If nothing wrong was done, why does he continue to complain.

Even after Mueller completes his work, the midterm election results mean that House Democrats will also be in a position to expand investigations of Trump. That means Mueller will not be the end of Russia-related questions of Trump and his campaign.

Trump is considering former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Lindsey Graham and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Does this mean Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker will go back to that job or maybe take over from Rosenstein. Graham would less likely be a candidate since Trump would take that [slim] chance that in a special election, Graham’s replacement would lose.

Now it has been revealed that Whitaker was on the advisory board of a Florida company that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission and served with a $26 million judgment earlier this year for what court documents called “a scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” The company, World Patent Marketing, promised to help inventors get patents. He was paid by the company and the company donated to his failed run for the US Senate.

Whitaker was so involved in the company he sent a threatening email to a disgruntled customer, which was filed in the case by the FTC. In it, Whitaker accuses a customer of “blackmail or extortion” because the customer had threatened to complain to the Better Business Bureau.

Not surprising after the lead for the Republican nominee for governor started to shrink, both the nominee and Trump claimed there was fraud going on. Now that and a senate seat and agriculture commissioner will head for a recount as the Republican majorities are quite thin.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals court upheld a ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported. This means a nationwide injunction allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue will remain in effect. The Trump administration has already asked the Supreme Court to review the injunction.

Trump called a federal court ruling halting construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline a “disgrace” and suggested that his administration intends to appeal. “It’s a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace. 48,000 jobs, I approved it, it’s ready to start,” he told reporters. How is it political? Oh forget it. You know that won’t go anywhere.

The judge found that the US government’s use of a 2014 environmental review to justify issuing a presidential permit for construction of the cross-border pipeline violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

In former first lady Michelle Obama forthcoming memoir in which the former first lady said she would “never forgive” Trump for his role in the “birther” movement, “She got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always expect a little controversy,” was Trump response.

Then he said “I’ll give you a little controversy back, I’ll never forgive (President Barack Obama) for what he did to our US military. It was depleted, and I had to fix it. What he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.” Depleted? Trump’s budget is easily an under 10% increase from the last Obama military budget. “Depleted” would describe a military with nothing spent.

Trump signed a presidential proclamation that will bar migrants who cross into the US illegally through the southern border from seeking asylum. The proclamation put into effect a new rule that would ban migrants from applying for asylum outside of official ports of entry. The American Civil Liberties Union has already called the rule “illegal,” and legal challenges are expected to follow.

After French President Emmanuel Macron suggested earlier on in the week that Europe needs its own “army” to counter Russia, Chines and US threats, Trump came [as usual] testy by saying that then the US doesn’t need to “subsidize” the military in Europe. Could that also include NATO where he’s not a fan of? Probably. Trump also found it “very insulting”.

While in Europe to commemorate that 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, a White House statement said the planned visit had been “canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather. An American delegation led by Chief of Staff General John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford will attend on their behalf.” So they can’t go but the weather is OK to send his Chief of Staffs?

Trump tweeted “I am in Paris getting ready to celebrate the end of World War One. Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?” To me it sounds like it will be a big party.

Trump has consistently complained that NATO members don’t adequately contribute to the shared defense agreement, suggesting the other 28 members somehow owe the US money. Actually, all alliance members commit to spending 2% of their GDP on defense. While few have reached that threshold, most members have increased spending in recent years and are nearing the suggested level of spending.

As forest rage in California again Trump tweeted “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” He then blamed the Democrats on the state level for them. Except almost all the forests in California are on federal government lands!

Campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 million at Trump-owned and branded properties throughout the two-year midterm election cycle. And the total could rise after post-election financial reports are published by the commission. No single group spent more than the Republican National Committee, which spent at least $1.2 million at the properties since the start of 2017.

How good is the economy under Trump, another 40 stores belonging to Sears Holdings will close early next year in addition to the 200 already announced. In just over a year, they have shut down about half their stores in the US – under 500.

 

Trump on tour (part 2)

And what a tour it was. This past week was probably the biggest [and craziest] week in this administration.

Trump defiantly defended his meeting with dictator Vladimir Poutine, saying his encounter with the Russian leader went “even better” than his summit with NATO leaders last week. Was he in the same country as Poutine?

Trump tweeted “While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!” What money raising? Kickbacks? Russia paying the US?

Trump also tweeted ” I had a great meeting with NATO. They have paid $33 Billion more and will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me. NATO was weak, but now it is strong again (bad for Russia). The media only says I was rude to leaders, never mentions the money!” Except the other NATO leaders did not agree to “paying” anything or even increasing their military spending budget.

While NATO’s European members and Canada have added an additional $41 billion in defense spending since Trump took office, many NATO members began increasing their defense spending prior to his taking office since it was agreed in 2014 [when President Obama was in charge] to increase spending.

House Speaker Paul Ryan contradicted several comments Trump made during his Helsinki news conference including saying that “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, giving his support to the US intelligence community and saying “I’ve said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends.”

Sen. John McCain said Trump’s comments were “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President “made us look like a pushover” and that Putin was probably eating caviar on the plane home.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said “I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”

Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, “Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin.” I don’t think you can clarify. Whatever has been said won’t change.

Other Republicans criticized Trump. Those who are Trump allies didn’t go after him directly but used a more neutral-ish phrases like “missed opportunity”. Obviously the Democrats pounced on this major blunder.

One Senator who is siding with Trump is Rand Paul. His career in politics could be over after his next election.

Trump tried to fix the mess but you can’t fix the damage that has been done even by saying “As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.'” This after many times how he said he had little confidence in them and the Department of Justice.

A day after that infamous news conference, Trump attempted to clean up the controversy when he said he had misspoken during the news conference and affirmed that he has “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.” But judging from his previous comments about them over the last 18 months, no one really believes him. He’s digging a bigger hole.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said during a meeting with congressional members at the White House, before couching his comments with: “Could be other people also; there’s a lot of people out there.” So, he is still unsure if it was the Russians then.

Trump said he doesn’t believe Russia is still targeting the United States, contradicting U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow is continuing its attempts to meddle in U.S. elections, but “Simpleton” Sanders later said his remark was misunderstood by the press.

Under intense political pressure, Trump went further in laying the blame on Poutine for the cyberespionage assault on the 2016 election than he had before in an interview. When asked if Poutine was responsible Trump replied “I would, because he’s in charge of the country.” Hmmm. “The” country and not “his” country. Is Poutine in charge of the US?

Trump’s hesitation to criticize Poutine will only add to growing questions — that were once whispered in Washington but now are being openly discussed — about whether the Russian government really does have compromising information on Trump.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump tweeted. Ummmm. Which intelligence? The community or as in IQ. I don’t think either approved.

Trump’s behavior raises questions about how top intelligence officials can remain in their posts after being so spectacularly thrown under the bus.

At a security forum in Aspen, Colorado, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was stunned when a woman from NBC interviewing him announced in front of the audience and him that Poutine was invited to Washington for a visit in the fall. Obviously he didn’t know. “Say that again,” Coats said, doing a double take and laughing in disbelief at the absurdity of the latest episode in the Russia saga.

The reaction by Coats will surely make Trump upset as to embarrass him. Doesn’t the administration tell some of the most important people when there is a major visit?

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told a newspaper – not saying the United States but the administration.

Even late night talk show hosts went after Trump including quotes like:

  • Jimmy Kimmel said Trump met with his “KGBFF, Vladimir Putin.”
  • Seth Meyers said “Seriously, Trump gushes over Putin like a flustered 12-year-old who just met Mickey at Disneyland.”
  • When some reporters had criticized Trump’s comments Stephen Colbert said “Those are the worst reviews I’ve seen since Titanic … And I don’t mean the movie.”

Hillary Clinton tweeted “Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?” Later on she tweeted “Well, now we know.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton famously called out Trump, implying that he would be Putin’s “puppet.”

Among the newspapers’ comments from around the world:

  • London’s Daily mirror used the headline “Putin’s Poodle”.
  • A Finnish paper said ” Trump 0 – Putin 1″.
  • Swedish newspaper HBL went with “Putin: Trump is my favorite”.
  • Paris’ Le Monde topped its front page with: “Donald Trump, best of allies with Poutine.”
  • The New York Post went with a headline of “See No Evil” with “Prez gives big Bear hug to wicked BFF Vlad, jabs US intel.”
  • The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch, declared the news conference “a personal and national embarrassment,” asserting that Trump had “projected weakness.”

Russia announced it was ready to pursue agreements reached by Poutine and Trump “in the sphere of international security,” though the White House and Pentagon would not confirm any agreements had been made or offer any details. Trump and Putin met for about two hours during their summit in Helsinki with only translators present. It is still not clear what the two men discussed or agreed to during their meeting.

When asked what he and Poutine discussed in their meeting, Trump said Syria, Israel, North Korea and Iran. Nothing about any military agreements. Then, later, Trump claimed that “I let him know we can’t have this. We’re not going to have it. And that’s the way it’s going to be.” Problem is that the meeting was private [except for the translator]. So there is no way of knowing if he said this or anything else.

After 12 Russians government hackers were indicted, Trump continues to say that he believes Poutine over his own Department of Justice. Isn’t that almost treason? Not surprisingly the Russian government laughed at the indictments, but of note, they used very similar phrases that Trump has used in supporting Russia.

When asked in an ABC interview whether he would ask Poutine for the 12 indicted to be sent to the US, Trump said “I haven’t thought of that.” Seriously?

Trump tweeted “These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn’t Obama do something about it?  Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that’s why. Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn’t want to report the truth, as usual!” Let’s see. President Obama’s term was winding down and the hacking wasn’t known yet. That first line sounds almost like an admission that the hacking happened by Russia.

The White House said it was entertaining a proposal raised by Poutine to interrogate 11 Americans in exchange for assistance in the ongoing US investigation into election interference, putting the White House at odds with the State Department.

The Americans wanted for questioning by Moscow include Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, and American-born British citizen financier Bill Browder, who successfully lobbied the US government to impose new sanctions on Moscow. Russia claimed Browder never paid any taxes in Russia or the US. So throwing Americans under the bus to help Russia.

Then later, the administration finally rejected the Russian proposal.

Not surprising, the White House had rejected calls to cancel the summit after 12 Russian military intelligence officers were charged with hacking into Democrats’ computer networks and emails during the 2016 presidential race. [Why would they – it was the Democrats who were hacked and Trump doesn’t believe it was the Russians anyways.]

Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, parrot [and sometimes White House press secretary], claims all along that the administration believed Russian hacked the 2016 elections. [Please stop laughing. OK?] She also blamed previous administrations for doing nothing. But, there was no clear indication that there was any hacking [by Russia] prior to the 2016 election.

Ahead of his “meeting” with Poutine, Trump said “We have 90% of the nuclear – and that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing.” Hmmm. By one interpretation, Trump would rather have many countries with nuclear weapons then.

Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election, saying Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it agrees with Trump’s comment that relations between the two countries have never been worse as a result of “US foolishness” and the “witch hunt.”

Not surprising, two Republican senators that aren’t fans of Trump, Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake weren’t happy with Trump siding with the Russians against Americans – aside from the Democrats. Former CIA Director John Brennan just tweeted a strongly worded reaction to Trump’s news conference, saying it “was nothing short of treasonous.”

Time and time again over his nearly 18 months in office, Trump has resisted saying anything bad about Poutine. His critics say that’s particularly odd given that Russia conducted a broad and deep attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election – which Trump has denied. In fact, Trump has praised Poutine 11 times – so far.

A video released by the Russian government touting his country’s potential future weaponry and its supposed ability to strike Florida filled Trump with rage.

Poutine says the “so-called Russian interference” in the US 2016 presidential election was brought up by Trump during their summit in Helsinki. Hmmmm. Doesn’t that sound staged?

Three reasons why Trump wanted a private [as it turns out] 90 minute meeting with Poutine:

  • Trump requested alone time to better personally assess Poutine and develop a leader-to-leader relationship.
  • Trump has previously expressed anger at leaks coming from his meetings with foreign leaders and told aides he doesn’t want sensitive information leaking from his meeting with Poutine.
  • Trump doesn’t want aides, who may take a harder line on Russia, undercutting or interrupting him in his conversation with Poutine.

You know the summit between Trump and Poutine could be interesting when the temperature in Helsinki hit 30 degrees Celsius (That’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Helsinki averages around one 30°C day every decade, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Trump’s Helsinki press conference with Poutine, and his endorsement of Poutine over his own intelligence services, has fed outrage and concern about Trump’s motivations, as well as what transpired during the closed-door session. Those concerns are now yielding calls in Congress for Trump’s translator to appear before lawmakers.

Trump went after just about every former heads of all the intelligence agencies, blaming them for allowing the hack, etc.

Trump claims that those politicians who are against him are being pushed by the [fake] media to do so.

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, who was one of the two reporters who broke the Watergate scandal which eventually led to the downfall of President Nixon, says that the US has never seen Democrats and Republicans so openly question “the loyalty of the President” to the country. He said even with Nixon, the country didn’t see this behavior.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that other countries, such as Mexico, have been more successful in doing so. He says that Mexico “is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate.” Of course he has no real proof.

Trump doesn’t seem to care about the Royal protocols but most likely he didn’t read up on protocols – like he generally doesn’t read anything prior to any meeting:

  • He walked in front of the Queen when reviewing the honor guard.
  • He had her wait 10 minutes [he arrived late]. Protocol is to show up early when meeting the Queen.
  • He told the London paper, The Daily Mail, about what she supposedly said about Brexit to him in private.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed the suggestion Trump gave her last week that he claimed she found “too brutal.” “He told me to sue the EU,” May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “Not go into negotiations, sue them.”

As if Trump doesn’t have enough, Trump has wrongly claimed that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II reviewed her honor guard for the first time in 70 years during his visit to the United Kingdom last week. The Queen — who has been on the throne for 66 years, not 70 — regularly reviews a guard of honor from the Household Division.

In April last year it was widely reported that Trump requested a ride down to London’s Buckingham Palace in one of the Queen’s gold-plated carriages. The US Embassy and the British security services talked him out of that one — anticipating the fierce protests.

Noticed that none of the royal family other than The Queen met Trump. None seem to like him. Prince Harry’s new wife, American Meghan Markle, called Trump “misogynistic and divisive.” When President Obama came to London 2 years earlier, all the [top] royals came to meet Obama including Prince George.

Trump tweeted “So funny! I just checked out Fake News CNN, for the first time in a long time (they are dying in the ratings), to see if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy). They didn’t!” Not true. It was on CNN’s front page of their web site as well as internationally. This was when Trump refused to take the reporter’s question which the next one went to Fox News.

Then the White House canceled national security adviser John Bolton’s appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” after Trump’s tense exchange with Acosta at the press conference.

Trump named the European Union, Russia and China as foes to the United States during an interview at his golf club in Scotland. “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” He says this cowardly after leaving London and the NATO meetings.

Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly made a recording of his conversation between himself and Trump discussing payments to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who has alleged an affair with Trump. The recording — which was made shortly before the presidential election — was seized during an FBI raid on Cohen’s office in April. This contradicts Trump’s claim that he didn’t know her.

In August 2016, McDougal signed an agreement with American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, Us Weekly, Men’s Journal and several other publications. She believed at the time the contract was a work agreement that would allow her to be photographed for and write pieces that would run in the companies’ publications.

McDougal later realized she could face a financial penalty for speaking to the media about her story. AMI never released anything of hers which effectively kept her quiet about talking about the affair.

In April, she reached a settlement with AMI that allows her to discuss the alleged affair. The publisher of AMI is a good friend of Trump. Did Trump ask AMI to pay on his behalf? Trump could now be investigated for using campaign money [if that’s where it came from] for other reasons.

New York is a “one-party” consent state, meaning that as long as one participant in the conversation gives permission to record, it is legal. There has been some hints that Cohen could be willing to seek a cooperation agreement with the US attorney’s office.

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” Of course did he comment about the “break” in from April? Probably not. And it wasn’t a “break in” but warrants were issued. He never heard of a lawyer taping conversations? And I think he did something wrong.

Trump has waived privilege on the recording. The recording had been deemed privileged by a former federal judge, known as a special master, adding that Trump’s lawyers asked the special master to withdraw the privilege. This gives the government access to the recording as part of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York investigation into Cohen. That part is a bit surprising.

Even with all that has happened in the past month [Scott Pruitt’s “resignation”, NATO, Helsinki, Supreme Court nomination], there has only been 4 White House press briefings.

Why did it take so long? It took a good part of a week before it was announced that a 42-year old United States Secret Service agent [protecting national security adviser John Bolton] died after suffering a stroke while supporting Trump’s trip to Scotland over the weekend. As of this time, no acknowledgement or even a condolence tweet from Bolton [or Trump].

Trump on tour (part 1)

Donald Trump capped off his tumultuous two-day visit at NATO headquarters by boldly declaring that all NATO members agreed to increase their defense spending after he told them he was “extremely unhappy.” Trump came up empty when pressed to detail the new financial commitments he had secured, offering only that member countries “agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly” and pointing to spending increases over the last year.

Trump claimed that all countries said that all the countries have agreed to reach 2% before the 2024 deadline. Of course he is giving himself credit for this. Problem is that the other countries did not agree on reaching the target before 2024. He called himself in a hasty called news conference “stable genius”.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “There was a communiqué released yesterday it was very detailed and I invite you to read it … It shows the measures approved by all the member states. This communiqué is clear, it reaffirms a commitment to 2% in 2024. That is all.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said spending will go up slowly over the next few years to reach at or near 2% GDP by the deadline.

Meanwhile Trump said that “everybody in that (NATO) room got along”. And yet Germany’s Angela Merkel wasn’t happy with Trump’s comments about her country and others when Trump called them “delinquents” for not paying their share.

Trump said he believes he “probably” could withdraw from the NATO alliance without congressional approval – but said that was “unnecessary.” Seems Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Does he ever read the legal information before he opens his mouth.

So another hussy fit from Trump? Threatening to leave NATO. One reason why NATO was created was to counter any aggression from the Soviet Union. Little has changed as it’s now Russia and Russia grabbed Crimea in 2014. Experts believe that without NATO, smaller Baltic countries are at risk for an invasion from Russia.

Trump has previously said that Russia grabbing Crimea wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as there are plenty of Russians living there. The same can be said about many countries formerly part of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet Union did it on purpose – moving Russians into those countries while occupying them.

Trump previously has told allies that if they don’t meet higher spending targets, they should leave the alliance and go it alone on military matters. Is he the NATO Secretary General? Nope. NATO police? Nope. NATO CFO? Nope.

“Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them.” Paying what? NATO requires that a percentage of the countries’ GDP be used for the military – not to pay NATO [unlike the UN]. Maybe he should cut back on his military spending [and the $7 per screw] and maybe help his citizens.

Trump released a letter he recently received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and praised the “great progress” being made in talks with Pyongyang. Trump also touted his meeting with the Kim Jong Un while at NATO, calling it “an amazing meeting” and saying the two “established very good relations.” And yet….

North Korean officials did not show up to a planned meeting with US officials at the demilitarized zone, where they were expected to continue discussions on repatriating the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War. Trump has touted the return of remains as one of the successes of his historic June 12 summit with Kim Jun Un in Singapore.

In England, Trump has already caused problems by claiming that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has “wrecked” the country’s exit from the European Union [Brexit] and likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. The audio was recorded and clearly showed him criticizing May even when he told reports that listen to the recording think that he didn’t say it. Forgetting things already?

Then Trump denied that he criticized May, the day after a British tabloid published an interview with him in which he did just that. He dismissed the interview, conducted by a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication [which are right wing leaning], as “fake news” saying it didn’t include his comments praising May. He also questioned her competence.

Trump said his comments came after he “read some reports” that suggested the United Kingdom would not be able to make a free trade deal with the US and said after he did apologized to May.

He also praised one of May’s political rivals, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned from her government in protest this week – which is against protocol. He said Johnson would make a good Prime Minister and later back peddled by saying May is one.

He does think that the British like him a lot and yet demonstrators showed signs that said “Dump Trump,” “Lock Him Up,” and “There Will Be Hell Toupee.” The largest demonstration in years happened in London happened before Trump visited the Queen. A large giant balloon that flew over Parliament on Friday depicting him as a cell-phone-toting angry baby in a diaper.

Trump acknowledged feeling unwelcome in the city, and blamed that in part on Mayor Sadiq Khan, who gave protesters permission to fly the baby Trump balloon. Trump also blamed recent terrorist attacks there on Khan, who is Muslim. The president claimed Europe is “losing its culture” because of immigration from the Middle East and Africa.

It is also customary for anyone visiting The Queen to show up early. Trump showed up 10 minutes late.

With a news conference on and cameras “rolling” and in front of May, Trump refused to take an interview question from a CNN reporter saying CNN is a fake news network and instead took a question from Fox News.

Trump again blamed President Obama for Russian aggression in Crimea. Trump at times drew laughs from some British reporters, who jeered his criticism of the media and openly laughed at his numerous boasts. Finally, he defended his beliefs that immigration has damaged Europe.

US cable networks began cutting away to cover the Russian indictments. And calls from Congress grew louder for Trump to cancel the meeting in Helsinki with Poutine, whom Trump has previously declined to challenge on 2016 election meddling.

Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to join the US Supreme Court, setting the stage for a dramatic confirmation battle over a stalwart conservative who could shape the direction of the court for decades to come. He has never expressed outright opposition to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal nationwide, and similarly has no record on gay rights and same-sex marriage, but he will face tough questions from Democrats on both issues.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case,” Kavanaugh said at the White House. Which will probably mean voting for all right leaning causes. The White House is hoping the Senate moves quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the midterm elections in November threaten to unfurl the narrow Republican majority in the chamber.

Attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights. Trump also hopes to pressure several Democrats into voting to confirm his nominee as three Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won by double digits.

Kavanaugh’s career path led him from doggedly investigating one president to later on arguing for more legal protections for presidents — after working for another one.

Despite Trump’s insistence that he didn’t consider the nominee’s political views, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, which provided the president with suggested appointees, did. Kavanaugh’s conservative ideology is compatible with these two interest groups and Trump’s most recent ideological posture.

Trump said that he has not brought up the issue of abortion with Kavanaugh. Sure Donnie. Will anyone believe that comment with your history of lies.

Democrats and a few key Republicans in the Senate have said that they will not support a Supreme Court nominee who does not view the Roe v. Wade decision as a settled issue.

Former Republican Presidential nominee, Rick Santorum, said that Trump “bowed to the elite in Washington” – the same people Trump said he would drain from the swamp.

A reminder that during the election of 2016, Trump had said that picks for any Supreme Court nominee would be a vote to end Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and thus punish women. According to a 2016 survey, nearly seventy percent of Americans believe abortion should remain legal in this country.

A federal grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses related to the 2016 presidential election, the Justice Department. The grand jury indictment, part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, alleges intelligence officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) hacked into the computer networks of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and attempted to penetrate voting systems across the country.

The indictments could make things difficult for Trump as he meets Russian dictator Vladimir Poutine next week. He had previously said he didn’t want to offend the Russians but he claims he will ask Poutine flat out whether there was any hacking or other illegal activities. You expecting Poutine to say yes? And pigs will fly.

Of course, the chance of the 12 ever being prosecuted is very unlikely as the US has no extradition treaty with Russia. Trump, meanwhile, continues to be criticized for being reluctant to speak publicly about Russian interference into the campaign.

Trump expressed a remarkable opinion. Democrats “want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13,” he tweeted, referring to the international gang.

During their trip to Moscow recently, an all-Republican delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with at least two Russian sanctioned Russians. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama spoke with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who has been sanctioned since 2014 for Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful” activities in Ukraine. The group also heard from Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev, who complained about the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals. Kosachev was sanctioned in April over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and other “malign activity.”

The Trump administration is preparing another round of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion, ramping up the US-China trade war. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday released a list of thousands of additional goods that could face 10% tariffs after a public comment period. It includes fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, rain jackets and baseball gloves.

The move comes after the United States imposed 25% tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion. Beijing immediately responded with its own tariffs on US goods worth $34 billion.

A one-year-old child who was separated from his father at the southern US border appeared in immigration court. The child is one of several toddlers who have had to appear in court without their parents present. Meanwhile, five pregnant women in immigration detention said they were denied adequate medical care while they were obviously miscarrying. ICE and Customs and Border Protection guards were either unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies.

The goal of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest trip to Pyongyang was to negotiate the details of the nuclear agreement Trump signed along with Kim. North Korea criticized Pompeo’s “gangster-like” demands in negotiations and said the “attitude” of the US was “regrettable”, while Pompeo signaled “progress” in the talks between the two nations.

Trump confirmed that he plans to give a copy of the Elton John hit song “Rocket Man” to the dictator of North Korea. Wonder if it would be just the song [maybe illegally ripped?] or a legitimate copy of Honky Château [from where the song first originated].

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is working with foreign clients as he continues to advise President Donald Trump on the Russia investigation, which raises conflict of interest and federal ethics issues. Giuliani told The Washington Post in interviews that he maintains clients in Ukraine, Brazil and Colombia. [Is this guy an actual lawyer? Seems to know little about law.] Giuliani has not registered with the Department of Justice for his work, arguing that it’s not necessary because Trump isn’t paying him for his counsel and he does not directly lobby the US government. White House officials told the Post they cannot be sure of Giuliani’s claim that he never discusses his clients with Trump.

Trump tweeted “The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!” And no comments from him about the supposedly other 900+ people involved.

A federal judge in California flatly rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to modify a decades-old settlement agreement that limits the length of time and conditions under which US officials may detain immigrant children.

Trump’s former personal driver of more than 20 years has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization alleging that he was forced to work “thousands of hours” of overtime without fair compensation. The driver, Noel Cintron, claims in the lawsuit that he worked an average of between 50 and 55 hours a week for Trump without fair compensation. He is asking for more than $200,000 in unpaid overtime wages over the past six years. Noel Cintron received two raises in 15 years, but had to give up his Trump Organization health insurance in order to get a $7,000 pay increase.

Trump tweeted “Public opinion has turned strongly against the Rigged Witch Hunt and the “Special” Counsel….” I’d like to see that poll Donnie!

According to a Washington Post poll, 65% of women said they disapproved of Trump’s job as president, while 32% said they approved. 54% of men say they approved of Trump, while only 45% said they disapproved.

Trump tweeted “The Rigged Witch Hunt, originally headed by FBI lover boy Peter S (for one year) & now, 13 Angry Democrats, should look into the missing DNC Server, Crooked Hillary’s illegally deleted Emails, the Pakistani Fraudster, Uranium One, Podesta & so much more. It’s a Democrat Con Job!” [I’m wondering if he writes on a calendar when he should make the same comments over and over again.]

The Hudson’s Bay store chain in Canada has stopped selling anything from Ivanka Trump’s products due to poor sales online and phase the merchandise out during the fall. The chain didn’t say if any of the boycotts were the reason. However Shoes.com, Zulily, and Nordstrom stopped selling her products.

Trump at the NATO meeting – recipe for disaster

When NATO was created, they included Article 5, which states that a country that attacks one of its members is like attacking all 29. In other terms, if a country is attacked, the remaining 28 countries are to assist in fighting back.

So when Donald Trump attacks NATO members, is that against Article 5? 😊

Trump tweeted “By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!” It was decided a long time ago that contributions would be done by GDP. As the US is the largest country by the economy, it is expected for them to pay the most. But judging by the “By some accounts” reference, I’m sure it is nowhere near 90% – experts say maybe 70%. Second, trade surplus has nothing [directly] to do with the GDP.

Trump suggested NATO leaders increase their defense spending to 4% — doubling the 2% target that many NATO countries have yet to meet. Trump said the US, “in actual numbers,” is spending 4.2% of its GDP on defense. However, according to numbers just released by NATO, the US is expected to spend an estimated 3.5% of the GDP on defense in 2018.

Here is one reason why Trump wants NATO countries to spend more money on their military: Name the country that exports over a third of the military hardware last year?

[Hint: A narcissist is the “leader” of the country.]

Trump tweeted “Why are their only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.” [Note he tweeted “Their” and not “there”.] Ah the master of tweeting nonsense and then adding barely related nonsense.

Increasing spending would benefit the US economy as it is one of the largest military exports and of course NATO members wouldn’t be buying from China or Russia.

“I have NATO. I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all,” Trump said at the White House. Not surprising since he has alienated NATO and the UK [let alone the political mess the UK is at now]. That and some think that Vladimir Poutine pulls his strings.

Trump came out brawling in his first public comments ahead of NATO’s annual summit, accusing Germany of being “a captive of Russia” and all-but ordering members of the alliance to increase their defense spending “immediately.” This is because Germany gets 37% of its natural gas from Russia. But other NATO countries require more – in particular the countries closest to Russia.

Later Trump said that Russia would soon control Germany and the amount of natural gas Germany would use would only increase.

The Senate vote 97-2 to support a motion of support for NATO, this after some of the US’s closest allies have come to question the US commitment to collective self-defense. Two GOP senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against the measure. Paul tends to vote sometimes against Trump – so siding with him is odd.

“Dear America, appreciate your allies,” European Council President Donald Tusk said. “After all you don’t have that many. Money is important but generating solidarity is more important.”

Among NATO defense officials, there were quiet questions about how long US Defense Secretary James Mattis — a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and strong believer in alliances — could stay on in Trump’s administration.

[Vladimir Poutine must be laughing in his army boots.]