Another resignation in Trumpland

They must be cranking out the pink slips at the White House.

Reince Priebus says he has resigned as White House chief of staff and was then replaced by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Sources close to Priebus insisted throughout the day he was not resigning, leaving the impression the aide was defiantly hanging onto his job amid public shaming by his colleagues.

Key members of Donald Trump’s inner circle said Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, among the President’s most trusted advisers, had lost faith in Priebus.

“John Kelly is one of our great stars,” Trump declared. “John Kelly will do a fantastic job.” He probably said that about Sean “Garlic” Spicer and Priebus. Look where they are now. Conversations between Trump and Kelly about the role began two weeks ago, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. You think White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was “preparing the groundwork” after Scaramucci went after Priebus all week? [See later.]

Senate Republicans voted to advance to floor debate on their efforts to re-write health care policy, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. But hours later, the Senate decisively rejected a Republican proposal to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, a sign of the chaos expected to envelop Capitol Hill as GOP leaders work to find a plan their conference can agree to. Then they voted and rejected just to repeal Obamacare. Why bother. Trump should not be celebrating this small victory. The only reason why it got this far was because they had to compromise between feuding groups within the party.

And a day after a vote to repeal was also rejected.

Looks like a bit of a civil war as House Republicans are fed up and openly blaming their Senate colleagues across the Capitol for torpedoing their party’s pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare. Specifically they aimed their guns at the Republicans in the Senate who rejected the bill.

Trump jokingly threatened to fire his health secretary if a crucial vote to repeal ‘Obamacare’ fails. He made this comment during a speech to thousands of Boy Scouts where he also used some language that may be a bit too harsh for some of them. Bigger question. Why is he talking to politics to a bunch of Boy Scouts – most who can’t vote yet? He has to make everything political.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted. So Trump continues to whine about Clinton’s mail server which is OK to him, but it is not OK for the Democrats to push for the Russian probe? Meanwhile Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse his candidacy. It was Trump himself who signaled during the transition that he was not going to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton.

And then Trump tweeted “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign — quietly working to boost Clinton. So where is the investigation A.G.” Huh? He’s back to making comments with no proof.

And why is Trump whining about Sessions recusing himself from the Russian probe now – over a month after he did so? Sessions had to do so as he had contact with the Russians last year before his posting. Sessions should never have taken the job as attorney general if he was going to recuse himself according to Trump. [Democrats went after Sessions in his confirmation hearing for making some racist comments in his past. And yet Trump still hired him.] Trump considers Sessions recuse as the most grievous offence in the president’s mind.

Trump badmouthed Senator John McCain during the campaign. Trump wants to take healthcare away from 22+ million Americans. And McCain voted for his bill. It must be his medication. I am wondering what kind of medical attention he got if he was living on the streets or in poverty?

Mocking the Russian investigation in congress, Trump tweeted “Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!”

Scaramucci all but blamed Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus for leaking information After Politico published a story about how Scaramucci  continues to profit from the sale of his hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, Scaramucci slammed the leak of his Office of Government Ethics forms. This was After wrongly asserting that someone “leaked” information about his finances. “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept, he tweeted Wednesday night, adding, “#swamp @Reince45.” And the “If Reince wants to explain he’s not the leaker, he can do that.” Sounds like Scaramucci still believes Priebus is a leaker.

He later deleted the tweet claiming that he had only mentioned Priebus to show that all senior leaders are taking the leak crackdown seriously. The inclusion of Reince in the tweet was seen by some as an accusation. Scaramucci says today’s White House leaks are “so treasonous” that leakers would have been hanged 150 years ago. Scaramucci’s financial disclosure wasn’t leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

Then in an interview published by The New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci used an expletive to accuse chief of staff Reince Priebus of being a “f—— paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation. He also threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president.

Scaramucci notably said he reports directly to the president, not to the chief of staff.

The bad blood stems from Scaramucci’s view that Priebus was insufficiently supportive of Trump at the end of the election campaign and his belief that Priebus persuaded the president to keep him out of the White House in January.

The president’s senior counsellor, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, had earlier speculated that unnamed forces were out to get Scaramucci, saying: “Somebody is trying to get in his way and scare him off.” Something from the Trump playbook.

If Trump were to fire Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be elevated to the top post on an acting basis. But Trump has also criticized Rosenstein in the past. The name of one long-time Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani, was floated as a possible replacement for Sessions. Interesting to note that Giuliani said Sessions had the right to recuse himself.

According to law, Trump could move someone who has already been confirmed in another position by the senate to take Sessions’ job if Sessions resigns – not if he is fired.  Or Trump could appoint anyone of his choosing to be attorney general while the Senate recesses for 10 days or more in August. This would allow him to bypass Senate confirmation until 2019.

Trump often talks about making staff changes without following through, so those who have spoken with the president cautioned that a change may not be imminent or happen at all. But he also hired Anthony Scaramucci with much of notice to anyone including his own staff.

Trump went on another Twitter outburst saying “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” So Trump’s rule [for his opponents] is that if you or you know someone or you know someone who knows someone who donated to the Democrats, then you are biased.

“I would fire somebody that I did not believe could serve me well rather than trying to humiliate him [Sessions] in public, which is a sign of weakness,” said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.

“You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job,” said Sanders, Trump’s press secretary. In most companies, if unhappy with an employee they are fired. Trump should know that if he was a great businessman.

Federal law makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully” give “materially” false statements to Congress, even if unsworn. The consequences are serious: one can face up to five years in prison. Right Jeff, Donald Jr and Jared?

Trump announced that he plans to reinstate the ban transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the US armed forces. The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, which was still under final review. The so-called excuse: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The military brass contradicted what Trump said by saying they were never consulted and until they get orders they will continue to have transgenders in the military.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found. More is spent yearly on Viagra than transgender health.

Just over a year ago after the Orlando nightclub attack, Trump tweeted “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs” and he also said to them “I’m a real friend”.

“A landmark civil rights law doesn’t protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Trump administration said.” What’s next? Anything in law is just an advisory?

The Senate passed sweeping legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia and rebuking Trump in a bill that now will head to Trump’s desk. The bill, which gives Congress new powers to block Trump from easing sanctions against Moscow, passed the Senate 98-2. It passed the House at 419-3. Trump can either pass the bill or veto it, but if he does the latter there will be consequences.

The bill was passed with the House’s North Korean sanctions included, and in exchange, the House agreed to take up any future North Korean sanctions bills that go through the Senate. In addition, it could add protection for Russian probe investigator Robert Mueller in case Trump tries to fire him.

Trump visited the Boy Scout Jamboree this week and went political in front of mostly pre-teens [who can’t vote yet]. He went on and on about politics like how President Obama never went [the current President of the US has an open invitation] or about current rants of his [Obamacare, Jeff Sessions, Russia]. He was doing his speech in front of a big flag. With him waiting at one point, it almost looked like a Nazi salute – bring some to comment that it reminded them of 1938 and the Hitler Youth. Others suggested that the Boy Scouts came to see him. I guess Trump had nothing else to talk to them about. He was never a Boy Scout but President Obama was a scout.

The Boy Scouts of America apologized to the Scouting community for the political content of Trump’s speech at the National Scout Jamboree.

Former speaker of the House, John Boehner, said “…they’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s been around too long. And the American people have gotten accustomed to it.”

Now the GOP senators are trying the “skinny repeal” which would likely eliminate the individual mandate and the employer mandate. It would also get rid of the Obamacare tax on medical device makers.

Twitter has made it clear that it won’t ban Donald Trump from its service, whether the president follows its rules against harassment or not.

A production company has acquired the rights to Joshua Green’s newly released “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” for TV development as a limited/event series. It will tell the inside story of the partnership between Bannon and Trump which led to possibly the greatest political upset in U.S. history. Published last week, the book has earned strong reviews and has landed at the top spot of The New York Times bestseller list. It is based on dozens of interviews conducted over six years.

1469 days until the next Presidential inauguration!

A bit of trivia: Name the action movie in the mid-1990s mentions both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the movie? Scroll to the bottom…]

“I know a lot about hacking.” Boy now Trump is a computer specialist! Trump claimed to have inside information on the matter, which he said he would reveal within the week of saying so – and didn’t. Judging from the history of Trump, it won’t be during that week, the next or the week after. Or maybe ever.

All sixteen federal intelligence agencies in the US plus two private independent security firms all concluded that Russia was involved in the hacking.

“What I can say is that we don’t believe that intelligence efforts should interfere into politics, certainly,” Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said. So this is the equivalent of saying the intelligence agencies should not say that their government was hacked into.

“This report that everyone keeps talking about is not final,” the President-elect’s incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer said. So why was the report released? Did the report say it wasn’t final?

“As President-elect he is privy to information most people aren’t,” Spicer said. Ok, so why mention anything until you can release it.

“And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong.” True but who knows. With the time wasted going in, the WMDs could have been moved or buried.

Trump’s people can’t get things right. Reince Priebus stated that Trump finally acknowledged that the US was hacked and Trump has promised to retaliate but Trump advisor [and all around odd-ball – for the lack of kind words] Kellyanne Conway keeps on using “alleged” hack because the Russians [she claims] were unsuccessful.

Trump is blaming the DNC for the lack of security to their network but Trump fails to blame the RNC [they were hacked but supposedly (or on purposely)] no leaked data or various government agencies.

Trump having his children or son-in-law as advisors could go against a law created in the mid-1960s which stipulates that family members cannot be advisors or paid. They may be one some committees but unpaid and clear of advising the President. But remember – this is Donald Trump. What’s another potentially broken law?

A full repeal of Obamacare by Trump would cost $350 billion over the next decade, according to a new analysis from the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. This makes its wholesale dismantling much more complicated. Trump himself said [depending on the weather it seems] will either pull all of Obamacare or take the “best” pieces.

The GOP and Trump claim removing Obamacare would be their first item of business. But they have not said what they would replace it with. There is talk that even giving children of illegal immigrants health care as part of Obamacare would be pulled as well as the guarantee of health care even with pre-existing conditions. An estimate 20 million Americans who didn’t have health care prior to Obamacare could potentially lose their health care.

Trump went to Twitter [as usual] to lash out at Meryl Streep after she made comments about him at the Golden Globe Awards. He responded in his usual fashion calling her “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and denying he “groveled” at someone during the campaign. If The Pope was to make comments about him I wonder how he’d respond? “Over-rate Pope”? “Pope who has done nothing?” He is a humorless and easily offended public persona.

Trump to criticize Saturday Night Live as “biased” and “unwatchable” on Twitter during the campaign after Alec Baldwin made fun of his looks and manner. But the show just recorded its best ratings in 24 years, thanks to a toxic and highly divisive U.S. presidential election.

Actor Alex Baldwin making fun at Trump with a knock off of “Make America Great Again” in Russian….

Arnold Schwarzenegger took over as “host” on Celebrity Apprentice [which Trump still has a production credit but doesn’t do anything]. Trump went after “Arnie” after the ratings have dropped but also poked fun at him because he supported (John) Kasich and Hillary (Clinton). Arnie did respond in Twitter with “I wish you the best of luck and I hope you’ll work for ALL of the American people as aggressively as you worked for your ratings.”

Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton have decided to attend the inauguration to do so out of a sense of duty and respect for the American democratic process. So has George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter [who previous agreed to attend].

In another about face [well partially] Trump has said he will push to build the “Great Wall” between the US and Mexico now and send Mexico the invoice later. He doesn’t want to wait on the wall. There are currently 700 miles of fence along that track, with another approximately 1,200 miles either open, nearly impossible to actually build on or impassable.

Melania Trump, taking lessons from her husband, has warned that she will sue anyone who calls her an “ex-hooker”. If you recall, a story stated that she came to the US with a non-work visa and yet she was supposedly a model at Trump’s modeling agency. The story said she pulled in $20,000 within months. I would guess not all was modeling – especially since the agency couldn’t put her on their payroll legally. Get the drift?

Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN review has found. The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia.

Trump wants to create a “team” within 90 days of his inauguration on how to tackle hacking. First, you know Trump. It will be long after 90 days – if ever. Second, doesn’t the US already have an intelligence division to handle this? Oh ya. Trump doesn’t trust them.

Trump’s tweeting could cause problems. As of now they have been minor but if he tweets a bad comment, it could cause ripples.

In an example of bad tweeting Trump said “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!” In fact most Cruzes are made in Ohio for the US market. The Cruze hatchback is made in Mexico for the international market although maybe 4500 care shipped to the US. After the tweet, GM’s stock market price briefly went down.

During the election campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement as a means of protecting and creating U.S. jobs. But while NAFTA is still valid, dishing out a “border tax” isn’t allowed.

Then Trump whined again on Twitter about Toyota opening a plant in Mexico and again with the “border tax” except he was technically defending Canada because the “lost” jobs would actually be Canadian jobs. Oh. He got the location in Mexico wrong.

It’s been a policy that when a new president comes in, all the appointments from the previous administration are recalled. Generally they leave by inauguration day. But with the Trump administration, they want everyone out by inauguration day. No exceptions or extensions. That means pulling kids out of school in the middle of the school year, canceling charity galas and supposedly in one case cancer treatment.

Oh. What ever happened to Trump releasing his tax returns. Maybe it includes the fact that it will show Trump’s connections to Russian businesses.

Trivia answer: Die Hard With A Vengeance [the third Die Hard movie with Bruce Willis]. At one point in conversations between the characters of Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, both names came up. Interesting to note that Clinton’s name came up related to the presidency.