Mueller testifies – was it a draw? Anyone won?

Former special counsel, Robert Mueller III [a.k.a. “Robert Three Sticks” by a right wing news anchor], said before the hearing he would not offer anything new that hasn’t been said in the 448 page report. He was asked to appear at two committees to answer and clarify his report. But some Republicans were expecting new information.

Donald Trump said he would “probably” not watch the testimony, before quickly saying he might “see a little bit of it.” Oh I’m sure he watched more than a little. His ego wants to watch. Well he stopped before the hearing began and then resumed tweeting after 10 AM. So much for “a little bit”.

On the same morning at the hearing, Trump accused Democrats of having “illegally fabricate(d) a crime” and “pinning it on a very innocent President” and later added “this illegal and treasonous attack on our Country.”

Then he added that Mueller should of investigated himself, Hillary Clinton, James Comey and just about anyone who he dislikes before described Mueller’s investigation as “the Greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history, by far!”

Right away all the right wingers are saying that this hearing shows that Trump is innocent of all charges, vindicated, etc. What hearing were they watching? Republicans said Mueller was a failure at the hearings. Even Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said so. So it must be true. Other Republicans have said there is nothing wrong and the Democrats should give up and get back to help govern the country.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who claimed Mueller’s testimony “has been a disaster for the Democrats” and “a disaster” for Mueller’s reputation. Other right wing commentary said the Democrats bombed because Mueller basically said there was nothing new in his testimony. Duh. He said in advance he would not offer anything new.

“The Democrats lost so big today. Their party is in shambles right now….. The Democrats had nothing, and now they have less than nothing.” was what Trump said outside the White House. What an exaggerator.

“President Trump’s tenure in office may very well have been extended by four years as a consequence of this hearing,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican’s chief attack dog on the judiciary committee.

One area where the two warring sides did manage to briefly come together was on Mueller’s bleak assessment that the Russians were most certainly still trying to undermine the integrity of the country’s electoral system.

Republican Rep. Louie Gomert whines that former FBI agent Peter Strzok hates Trump and should of been off the team. You think they have nothing else to do but grill each member of their politics. Surprised he didn’t go after any other Democrat leaning agent.

The day after the Mueller hearings, a Republican blocked the advancement of four bills aimed at strengthening election security. Two of those bills would require campaigns to report to federal authorities any attempts by foreign entities to interfere in US elections, and the third is aimed at protecting from hackers the personal accounts and devices of senators and some staffers. The Republicans claim that the upcoming elections are already secure while the Democrats say the 3 bills enhance that security.

From an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity:

  • “So, I ended up watching more than I wanted to.” – So much for watching very little [see the first paragraph in this blog].
  • “This was a fake witch hunt and it should never be allowed to happen to another president again.” – Except 199 criminal counts against 37 people and entities. Seven people pleaded guilty. Five sentenced to prison.
  • “I watch as people scream at these poor Democrats, the congressmen, scream like I’ve never seen.” – Screaming?
  • “I think the press has lost all credibility, much of it. But it’s lost a big part of it. I mean, a very substantial part of it, lost all credibility.” – Except that would exclude Fox News, Breitbart, any nationalist web site,…
  • “It’s fake news, but it’s the enemy of the people, more importantly.” – Trump says that the free and independent media is the enemy of the people.
  • “Well, [James] Comey is a liar and a leaker and that’s obvious.” – Except while lying to Congress can send you to prison for 5 years, he isn’t in prison. Why is that?
  • “We have some very, very bad people in government that would be willing to do very bad things and for bad reasons.” – Except if they are bad, have they resigned or being investigated?
  • “I mean, this was — this was a coup attempt, in my opinion.” – Except where were the military? Didn’t see them take over anything. Like the word treason, he doesn’t know the definition of the word coup.
  • “Had Hillary won this election, you’d be at war right now with North Korea, and I have no doubt about that.” – Except meanwhile North Korea fired two missile tests this past week after 3 meetings with dictator Kim Jong Un [including one in North Korea] and of course has no idea what the US and North Korea would be doing if Clinton was President. We probably do know that the US’ reputation wouldn’t be damaged, allies wouldn’t be angry [or not as many], and tariff wars wouldn’t have started against them.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the Trump administration to use $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense to construct parts of a wall along the southwestern border that the government argues is necessary to protect national security. The Supreme Court voted 5-4, along ideological lines. The decision overrules the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that had blocked the transfer of funds while appeals played out.

Members of the US military will spend roughly a month painting parts of one mile of the wall along the southern border in Calexico, California “to improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall.” There “may also be an operational benefit” to painting it as “individuals appeared to have greater difficulty” scaling recently painted bollards in Nogales, Arizona.

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib vowed to hold her ground during a speech in Detroit, clearly responding to Trump’s attacks on the four Democratic congresswomen of color known as “the squad” by saying “I’m not going nowhere, not until I impeach this President.”

This was after Trump tweeted “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country,” accused them of “destroying the Democratic Party,” and said they should “apologize to America”. After Tlaib’s comments above he tweeted “The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart.” When you say anything negative about Trump, he goes after you. It’s an ego issue.

Just a couple of days after Trump praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, North Korea sent two test missiles which landed in the water between them and Japan. Are they poking fun at Trump? Nah.

Trump tweeted Sweden has “let our African American community down” by not freeing rapper A$AP Rocky, who is facing assault charges after a confrontation last month where he and 2 from his entourage beat up someone. Trump offer to post his bail. Nope. Sweden has no bail system.

He added “We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem!” Now look at the first sentence. Where have we’ve seen this tactic before? Yes. He does the same thing when it comes to countries before pushing tariffs. As for the second sentence, there would be no crime in this case if the rapper and friends didn’t beat up the other person.

Afghanistan has demanded the United States clarify remarks made by Trump, who said the country “would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he wanted to win the war in Afghanistan. Trump on Monday had suggested that he could put an end to the Afghanistan war in a week, but that it would cost millions of lives and wipe the country.

Trump also said that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan would like him to mediator in the decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region. Trump had claimed that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally asked him if he would like to be a mediator. A spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Twitter that “no such request has been made” by Modi. India prefers direct talks with Pakistan and no mediator.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly 90 to 8 to confirm Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, Mark Esper, giving the Pentagon its first permanent chief since James Mattis stepped down in January. 5 Democratic presidential hopefuls voted against.

US attorney general William Barr has said consumers should accept the risks that encryption backdoors pose to their personal cybersecurity to ensure law enforcement can access encrypted communications. Law enforcement says encryption thwarts their access to communications they claim they need to prosecute criminals. Well, the US is slowly turning into a dictatorship.

Bill Weld, challenging Trump for GOP party leader says he is a “raging racist.” Duh. Chance of him winning is the same chances of Trump resigning this week.

White House officials in recent weeks have shown Trump a document that alleges a large conspiracy to award Amazon a 10-year, $10 billion contract to build the Pentagon’s cloud computing network. Trump has well-known animosity toward the online retail giant and its founder, Jeff Bezos. Oracle, IBM and Microsoft are also fighting for the contract with Microsoft having a slight edge.

The Trump administration’s latest step is to clamp down on the food stamps program, which covers 38 million Americans, and other public assistance services. It wants to require more poor people to work for SNAP benefits, and it is looking to change the way the poverty threshold is calculated, a move that could strip many low-income residents of their federal benefits over time.

It would curtail so-called broad-based categorical eligibility, which makes it easier for Americans with somewhat higher incomes and more savings to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps.

Trump ripped into [surprisingly] Fox News for reporting poll numbers that show him trailing multiple Democratic presidential candidates. Shocker!

Trump made 61 false or misleading claims last week. Over a year, that would come out to 3,172 of them. Ouch. Trump has gotten less truthful over time: in 2017, his average was 2.9 false claims per day; from 2018 through May 2019, it was 8.3 per day.

Four of the world’s largest carmakers — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW – are going forward with plans to make more fuel-efficient vehicles for the US market, despite the Trump administration’s plans to roll back the rules.

Turkey would retaliate against what it called an unacceptable threat of US sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses, its foreign minister said, adding he thinks Trump wants to avoid such measures. Turkey began receiving deliveries of the surface-to-air S-400 systems earlier this month, prompting the United States to begin removing the NATO ally from its F-35 stealth fighter program over security concerns. A US official said it would cost some $500 million to $600 million to shift F-35 manufacturing from Turkey.

Trump floated placing tariffs on French wines and other French products in retaliation for that nation’s new tax on large American technology companies, telling reporters in the Oval Office that he “might” impose the tax ahead of the G7 summit in August.

Trump continues to try to help defend American rapper A$AP Rocky who is being held for trial in Sweden on charges that he and two of his entourage beat up and individual there. He also complains that why is he doing this to a African American – as if he has supported African Americans in the past.

One of the reviews of Mueller’s testimony at the hearings: “Like watching a passionate conversation with an answering machine.”

Trump goes after Sessions again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit of humor:

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

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

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

Five seconds later, Jared had a black eye.