Legal issue and bad advisors plague Trump

Watch the White House Correspondent’s Dinner? Main even Michelle Wolf made some zingers – both positive and negative. Maybe a bit over the line for a few.

Donald Trump said the annual correspondents’ dinner was “an embarrassment.” He called comedian Michelle Wolf’s stand-up act “filthy.” He should know about filthy. Remember that tape of him for Access Hollywood. “Everyone is talking about the fact that the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a very big, boring bust … the so-called comedian really ‘bombed.'” According to you maybe.

White House Correspondence Dinner President Margaret Talev says she’ll work with the next president on “the format of the dinner going forward.” I guess she won’t work with Trump then.

Trump did not attend the annual correspondents’ dinner as he was doing an election style rally in Michigan. There, Trump told supporters during a 90 minutes speech that if Congress did not meet his funding demands for border security, he may support a government shutdown this fall. Despite his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump has demanded that Congress fund the project.

In March, he signed a bill that funds the government through September that included $1.6 billion for border security, but not the wall. For the leader of the nation, where his part has majorities in the House and Senate, he has really done nothing.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in asking Trump a variety of questions related to the 2016 campaign and people who have figured in Trump’s personal life, business interactions and administration, according to Mueller’s list of questions for Trump obtained and reported on by The New York Times. Trump couldn’t wait to tweet “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media. No questions on Collusion.”

In the nearly 50 questions “leaked”, there were about a dozen questions related to collusion and yet after the leak, Trump tweeted “There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap).” I guess he doesn’t know the definition of collusion. The questions were compiled by Trump’s lawyers during negotiations with Mueller’s investigators earlier this year over the prospect of a presidential interview.

There was talk as far back as March where Mueller’s team would decide to subpoena Trump as part of the investigation, he could still fight it in court or refuse to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination.

Trump said that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was paid via a monthly retainer and flatly denied that any campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen for the hush agreement with Stormy Daniels. But just a month ago when the payment first appeared, Trump said he knew nothing about a $130,000 payment.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is one of Trump’s personal lawyers, told Fox News that Trump paid back Cohen the $130,000 that was used to pay off Daniels. Giuliani said Cohen was “definitely reimbursed” and was “not campaign money”. [That’s one heck of a monthly retainer!] Trump had repaid Cohen over several months, indicating the payments continued through at least the presidential transition, if not into his presidency. No debt to Cohen is listed on Trump’s personal financial disclosure form, which was certified on June 16, 2017.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford [Daniel’s real name], and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said in February 2018. He notably did not include the president personally.

Trump is probably changing his mind when it comes to Giuliani after he said “he’ll get his facts straight.” Aside from Giuliani opening his mouth regarding the $130,000 payment to Story Daniels which contradicted Trump’s early claims, Giuliani then announced that three US prisoners would be freed from North Korea, but the day after no administration officials were confirming that. Now Giuliani says he was given the wrong information and assumed some of the facts.

Cohen gained access to lines of credit worth as much as $774,000 as Trump’s campaign entered the primaries. Exactly why does he need lines of credit?

Ethics watchdogs, federal auditors and congressional committees are conducting nearly a dozen inquiries into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions at the Environmental Protection Agency. The latest has Pruitt taking a trip with a known lobbyist to Morocco. Pruitt maintained that the state purpose of the Morocco trip was to discuss a free-trade agreement, and that American liquefied natural gas exports were brought up by ambassador of Morocco. Democrats argue that the “issue [free trade] that does not fall within the jurisdiction of the EPA.”

Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general. This goes against two campaign finance rules: transparency about how campaign funds are spent and ensuring campaign funds are not used for personal purchases.

According to Trump’s former physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump himself wrote his own hyperbolic prose. The language he used was eerily similar to the style preferred by Trump in the 2015 letter. An example is “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Trump called for Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to resign over his opposition to White House physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination for secretary of veterans affairs, saying some of the allegations against Jackson “are proving false.” Tester had raised concerns about allegations against Jackson, including that he loosely handled prescription pain medications, was intoxicated during an overseas trip, and created a toxic work environment. Good luck there Donnie.

Meanwhile, reports say Jackson will not return to his role as Trump’s personal physician.

Vice President Mike Pence’s physician privately raised alarms within the White House last fall that Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for a key patient — Pence’s wife, Karen — and intimidated the vice president’s doctor during angry confrontations over the episode. Memos from Pence’s doctor suggested White House chief of staff John Kelly was aware of the episode.

Jackson and the White House have continued to deny allegations of misconduct, and Jackson’s defenders in the White House said that the episode involving Mrs. Pence was simply a dispute between two doctors with a strained relationship and that he had acted appropriately.

Not surprising, Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Dallas. It will be one right wing love fest. Trump’s fourth year bin a row speaking and even though Pence would also be speaking.

Trump at one point floated raising the age of purchase for certain guns to 21 and proposed expanding background checks, including proposals opposed by the NRA. But after meeting with the NRA’s leaders, including its top lobbyist, he ultimately backed only modest proposals that the gun lobby supports. The NRA spent more than $30 million to help elect Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Among the things Trump said:

  • “Senator John Cornyn, been with me right from the beginning.” Actually Cornyn revealed that Trump wasn’t his first choice for the GOP presidential nomination.
  • “Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president.” Actually, the Democrats never have said this but Trump likes saying it as if they would pull it.
  • “Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 to 22 in one week.” This was taken by a pollster than is unreliable according to most.
  • “And they voted for me, and we won.” Nope. Trump won 8% of the African-American vote in 2016.
  • “Can you imagine, if we ever called for a rally in Washington, DC? There wouldn’t be enough room.” Just as big as his inauguration.
  • “We are going to have to outlaw, immediately, all vans and all trucks, which are now the new form of death for the maniac terrorists. Right?” In addition to his second amendment foolishness, he is now saying the Democrats will ban vans and truck. Seriously.
  • “President Obama was very nice to us, because he left us a lot of judges.” Actually, McConnell blocked many of Obama’s nominations which left many openings – some are still open.
  • “Ninety-eight percent of mass public shootings have occurred in places where guns are banned, just so you understand.” Coming from a questionable research but includes shootings where people bring in guns to banned areas.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he accepts the decision by the Rev. Pat Conroy, the House chaplain, to rescind his resignation. Some suggested a non-Catholic priest was needed.

You’re out! [Sorry had to add this.] White House lawyer Ty Cobb is leaving his position. Cobb has been discussing his retirement for several weeks and let chief of staff John Kelly know he would be retiring at the end of May. Supposedly Cobb was uncomfortable with Trump’s tweets against Mueller. He was not going to be “part of a mud-slinging campaign.”

Emmet Flood, who represented then-President Bill Clinton during his impeachment process in the late 1990s, is expected to join Trump’s legal team at the White House.

Trump is planning a trip to Britain, his first since taking office. On July 13th. It will not be a state visit.

A group of Trump’s most ardent supporters in the House of Representatives have sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, formally nominating the President for a Nobel Peace Prize. [You can stop laughing now.]

There are already extreme 6 Republicans trying to win the nomination for the party. These 6 have [among other things] one or more of felonies, anti-LGBTQ, white supremacist, anti-black, Holocaust denier, neo-Nazi, conspiracy theorist, anti-immigrant and anti-Latino.

 

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GOP civil war with Trump

Donald Trump tweeted [Republican] “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election” with Trump saying no and Trump said Corker would drop out when Corker had previously said he’d retire but Trump wanted him back. Then Trump tweeted “He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!” Does this mean current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on the way out?

As another rip into Corker, Trump tweeted “Didn’t have the guts to run!” Corker has run 3 times and a senator for 10. Trump? After the final Tweet [for now from Trump, Corker tweeted “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”

Trump is a President who is acting “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something,” said Corker later. Trump is setting the country “on the path to World War III.”

Mike Pence left a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after some players knelt during the National Anthem, saying he did not want to “dignify” the event. Some are suggesting that it was a staged plan. They knew that some players would take the knee while Pence was in attendance. This short stay in Indianapolis cost an extra $180,000 as he  made a detour to see the game only to leave before the game started.

The pool of journalists accompanying the vice president were not allowed into the stadium and were asked to stay in their vans. They were told by a staffer that “there may be an early departure from the game.” So another hint that the stunt was expected.

Trump opened up the kneeing controversy again last week by tweeting “Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!” before this weekend upcoming games. He tweeted this within 24 after the Las Vegas killings. Doesn’t he have better things to do?

Now after a deal was struck regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, Trump decided to change the terms of the deal. Those measures include provisions to make it harder for unaccompanied minors to enter the country illegally, money for the President’s border wall and cuts to legal immigration. Trump has said the new requirements must pass.

So Trump is still trying to get additional funding for his wall and at the same time add other issues. Unsure if he wants the DACA issue settled at all and looks like he wants to scuttle it.

Trump tweeted that nothing has been done regarding North Korea for the past 25 year. Well, it’s probably been quite a bit more than 25 years that they were a threat. Then he claimed that “…massive amounts of money paid” presumably by the US to North Korea. But why? The US wasn’t going to give that country money if they are dumping sanctions on them.

Trump didn’t seem to want to go to Puerto Rico, spend a night somewhere [where US warships are nearby – wouldn’t he be safe enough] and then visit the US Virgin Islands. Instead he visited just Puerto Rico. Mike Pence went to the US Virgin Islands.

Errr. Trump claimed that when he threw the paper towels in Puerto Rico, the people wanted them because they were soft. Seriously?

Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation of former President Bill Clinton’s real-estate investments and extramarital affair led to Clinton’s impeachment, said that he has “a sense” there will be indictments in the federal investigation into allegations of possible collusion by the Trump campaign in Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s election.

After it happened on Facebook, Google has identified tens of thousands of dollars in ad buys by Russian accounts that used YouTube or Google advertising to try to spread misinformation and sow discord in American politics.

Trump is still complaining about wanting to get “equal time” – probably because all of the investigations are against him, late night comedians, various newspapers, etc. All Trump can get support is from Fox News and various [if lucky] second rate web sites. I am sure just about any network has told Trump that he can come onto their network at any time.

According to the New York Times, Trump has states 1145 false information comments in his first 232 days or almost averaging 5 per day.

Since the Trump administration can’t get the Affordable Care Act repealed, they are trying to sabotage the ACA by shortening the enrollment period and cutting the marketing funds that would let the public know about it.

Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the spring, dines with one coal company at lunch and then with another coal company for supper at the BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Before that, Pruitt met privately with top executives and lobbyists from General Motors to talk about their request to block an Obama administration move to curb emissions that contribute to climate change.

Since he took over, from February through May, he has had briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.

Some of these same companies and trade associations were allies of Pruitt when, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, he sued the EPA at least 14 times to try to block rules he is now in charge of enforcing. Yes. This is the Trump administration in action!

After well-known Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein got into trouble with alleged sexual assaults against actresses and underlings over a number of years, Trump was asked his opinion. He said that he has known Weinstein for “many years” and then said he was not surprised. Nice way to through a supposedly friend under the bus. We’re not surprised at his comments. [It is known rumor in Hollywood that Weinstein has a history of allegations of sexual assaults and similar problems.]

Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani rejected Ivanka Trump’s invitation to talk about her computer science education initiative. She I a daughter of a refugee and disliked the initial and other travel bans. Ivanka Trump referenced Saujani’s success story in her book, “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success.” In the tweet, Saujani said: “don’t use my story in #WomenWhoWork unless you are going to stop being #complicit.” So when Donald Trump directed the Education Department to invest a minimum of $200 million in grant funding annually to STEM and computer science education, Ivanka Trump met with corporate partners and nonprofits in Detroit. Girls Who Code was not invited.

Melania Trump chose Places You’ll Go!, which she read with her son, Barron, “over and over” when he was younger and nine other Dr. Seuss titles to send to an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in celebration of “National Read a Book Day.” But a librarian at Cambridgeport School refused to accept the gift, criticizing Trump administration education policies and images in the books. Seuss’ illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” said librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro.

Trump should instead be devoting resources to schools in “underfunded and underprivileged communities” that are “marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” Critics view DeVos, a billionaire who has worked for decades to promote school choice, or alternatives to traditional public schools, as one of the most anti-public-education secretaries in the department’s history.

The Department of Education chose one high-achieving school in every state to receive a package of books from Trump, according to a statement from the White House. The Cambridge school system released a statement saying the librarian “was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district.”

The State Department is using longstanding but discretionary policy to ensure that evacuees are shouldered with the transportation costs, which according to the website are based off of “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis.” Evacuees who surrender their passports under this system don’t see them returned until payment is received.

“We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and in Florida, and we will also on Puerto Rico,” Trump said. Uh huh. Who did the grading?

Job openings in the United States reached a record high in July at 6.17 million, according to Labor Department data. Manufacturing had nearly 400,000 openings; construction 232,000; education and health 1.1 million; finance and insurance 270,000; retail 625,000. So jobs are available for various levels of education – not just for people with university degrees.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders claimed September 5, noting that 950,000 African Americans and 870,000 Hispanics in the same age group as DACA recipients were unemployed. “Those are large groups of people that are unemployed that could possibly have those jobs.” Or maybe those 1.7 million people are not interested in the same jobs as the DACA recipients [r are they really looking]. It is this thought that Trump claims that he would want to deport the DACA recipients but with 6.17 million jobs available….

But in September, for the first time in 7 years, there were job lost. After forecasting initially 90,000 jobs gained, 30,000 were lost.

Trump’s approval rating has once again reached 40%, while earning high marks for his handling of the government’s response to recent hurricanes, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. A broad 64% of Americans say they approve of how Trump’s government reacted to the recent storms, including two in three independents (66%). Nine in 10 Republicans support his reaction (90%), and even Democrats are evenly divided on Trump’s response to the crises, with 44% both approving and disapproving.

Half say they disapprove of Trump’s handling of the situation with North Korea (50%) vs. four in 10 who say they approve (41%) — little changed from Trump’s rating in August on the topic. Trump’s rating on health care remains low at just 31% approval during the Senate’s last-ditch push to pass a reform bill. Overall, 55% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

Ivana Trump, Donald’s first wife and mother of his oldest 3 children, release a book on her life with him and called herself the “First Lady” in an interview. Let’s just say Melania wasn’t too thrilled.

 

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.

Final test for Trump is on Monday

The Electoral College’s 538 members gather Monday at 50 state capitols to cast the ballots that matter the most when it comes to electing a U.S. president. They have the final say in whether to ratify Donald Trump as the 45th President of the US. It is a long shot that he won’t get what is needed as 37 Republicans would have to vote not for him.

It would be unprecedented in US politics and could bring a bit of a “constitutional crisis” – the phrase Trump used in the elections. Even if a few went against Trump, it would show Trump that he may have a rough time as president. By some counts, maybe 20 Republicans are thinking of not voting for Trump. What happens if 37 or more did switch. I’m not a US constitutional expert but it would cause turmoil. And I’m sure Trump and his cronies would go back to their “rigged” election call during the elections.

Wasn’t it rigged? He won when few expected it.

Trump went after the media during the election campaign including Time magazine. How things have changed. A month after his election Time magazine awarded him Person of the Year and he had nothing but praise for the magazine [except a few areas such as “dividing” the country]. He’s the master flip flopper.

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson will be the new Secretary of State under Trump. He has no diplomatic experience and Tillerson has connections to the Russian state owned and is friends with Vladimir Poutine. Tillerson has many links with the Russian government and state gas company. Talking about conflict of interest. He may be as bad as this as his possible future boss.

Trump claims Tillerson is “among the most accomplished business leaders and international deal makers in the world.” Yes, a deal maker but there is a difference between making a multi-billion dollar with Russia’s Gasprom and trying to stop the bombardment in Syria by Russian airplanes.

During Tillerson’s reign at Exxon, they didn’t take part in the shale oil and gas revolution in the US which created roughly 233,000 jobs between mid-2009 and late 2014. Exxon instead concentrated elsewhere. Also indication of how many of the 73,500 jobs are in the US. Exxon did get into shale but later on and paid dearly for it. And yet his boss, Trump, criticize Ford, Carrier and others for “shipping” jobs overseas. In the 8 ears under Obama’s administration, oil production went up around 90%.

Some of Trump’s people were pushing for Mitt Romney to apologize for the comments he made about Trump during the election campaign. [I wonder if Trump would apologize…] Romney won’t. The interesting thing is that Romney was one of the finalists for the Secretary of State. Because of his ties to Russia, there is no guarantee that Tillerson will survive the hearings to approve him for the job. Which means that Trump would have to choose another candidate such as Romney, Rudy Giuliani or others.

Some dozen CEOs [and one COO] went to Trump Tower in New York to meet Trump, Pence and the rest of their crew. Some CEOs did not appear or were not invited. Some of the attendees were checking to see what Trump plans on doing with the tech industries, US jobs, visas for tech workers, etc. Some called the meeting OK, others found it weird and some wondered why so many Trumps [Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr] were at the table aside from a bunch of Trump’s political team – wasting spots where other CEOs could have joined.

Trump’s transition team is disavowing a questionnaire sent to the Energy Department requesting the names of employees working on climate change issues. “The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled.” The Trump team has been criticized for asking for the names of federal government employees working on climate change issues. At least 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” according to NASA.

Trump still is defending Russia that there was no shenanigans during the elections. This is probably the first time an incoming [or any sitting] president is supporting Russian as much as he has. This in addition to announcing a potential Secretary of State who is so close to Russia.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is expected to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He has been a reliable booster of the fossil fuel industry and an outspoken critic of what he derides as the EPA’s “activist agenda.” Pruitt has been a vocal public denier of the science showing that the Earth is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame. Representing his state as attorney general since 2011, Pruitt has repeatedly sued the EPA.

Trump claimed 1100 jobs were saved at an Indiana Carrier factory. In fact, only 800 Carrier factory jobs were saved. The other 300 were white-collar administrative and engineering jobs at a different Indianapolis facility, positions Carrier never planned to ship to Mexico. Trump whined that the local union president “has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” As if the union president could do anything about jobs elsewhere. Carrier expects to add more automation which means some of those 800 jobs will be lost eventually.

Americans are less approving of President-elect Donald Trump than they were of previous presidents during their transitions into office, a new Pew Research Group poll shows. As Trump prepares to take office, 41% say they approve of the job he has done explaining his plans and policies for the future of the American people, while 55% say they disapprove of the job Trump has done. President Barack Obama had 72% in December 2008 and President George W. Bush’s 50% in January 2001 — in the wake of a disputed election. It’s also lower than President Bill Clinton’s 62% in January 1993 and President George H.W. Bush’s 65% in March 1989.

During a Fox News interview, Trump acknowledged he’s not receiving daily intelligence briefings, but argued he doesn’t need them because he’s “a smart person.”

Trump may choose his first Supreme Court nominee from one of the states that helped him get elected [such as Michigan and Wisconsin] and maybe a judge that has some political experience. Trump is looking for a kind of diversity the current court lacks. [So I guess he’ll choose another white male for a judge.] As most of the Court has spent their lives in DC, New York and Boston, maybe he’ll choose somewhere farther west. Supreme Court justices tend to hire clerks from the Ivy League and they have all attended elite schools. He will possibly chose from elsewhere.

Some supporters of President-elect Donald Trump have praised his choice of Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, noting that the retired neurosurgeon had lived in public housing himself. Except he didn’t according to a Carson aide. Carson claims he was raised “in the ghetto” and “in dire poverty.” Dr. Carson’s mother worked 3 jobs at a time to keep them out of public housing. So that doesn’t look like “in dire poverty”.

Meanwhile former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, in an attack on House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi saying “is she racist or just dumb”. Huckabee later apologized for tweeting the inaccurate information and said he had been relying on the New York Times — which he jabbed as a “fake news” site. Maybe he mixed that up with the LA Times.

Exxon steadily expanded its Russian business even as its rivals faced expropriation and regulatory obstacles, and in 2013 Putin bestowed the Order of Friendship on Tillerson.

Energy made in America is not as important as energy simply made wherever it is most economic,” he said in 2007 – which means rape the resources of another country before doing the same in the US. Tillerson has argued against sanctions that the U.S. and European allies imposed on Russia after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team slammed the CIA, following reports the agency has concluded that Russia intervened in the election to help him win. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” probably written by Trump. Trump continues to defend his buddy Putin.

“What proof does anyone have that they [Russia] effected the outcome because I’ve heard zero,” said Sean Spicer, Republican National Committee Communications Director.

Trump has officially backed away from going after Clinton even after crowds still chant “lock her up.” That is another promise he has already broken. “That plays great before the election – now we don’t care, right?” I’m sure some of his followers will care. Now they have been betrayed.

Incoming national security adviser General Michael Flynn’s son defended the baseless “pizza gate” conspiracy, the name given to a theory peddled online that claims the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in Washington and its owner were involved in a child sex operation. Some even claim Hillary Clinton was involved. Incoming Vice-President Mike Pence claims the son is not an advisor or part of the transition team and yet the son had [since suspended] an official government transition email address. “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story” tweeted the son even though saying Clinton was involved is ridiculous. Getting pointers from Trump? Flynn Jr. has served as his father’s top aide and chief of staff, and regularly shares conspiracy theories, expletive-filled posts, and racially insensitive sentiments on Twitter and Facebook.

Flynn claimed in an August radio interview that Arabic signs were present along the United States border with Mexico to guide potential state-sponsored terrorists and “radicalized Muslims” into the United States. Flynn further said in the interview he had personally seen photos of such signs in Texas.

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year LeBron James opted to stay elsewhere than the team’s official Trump-branded hotel in New York.

Trump wants to continue to be executive producer on The Apprentice. Shouldn’t be too difficult as the show probably has a dozen or so producers, executive producers, etc. But he already said he won’t be doing any work for the show.

Trump had Kanye West as a visitor recently. After a meeting that didn’t last an hour they were at the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. “We’ve been friends for a long time,” Trump told reporters – which is Trump language for being friends for just over an hour.

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner says he is thankful that he did not have to participate in the 2016 presidential election. “Thank God I’m not in the middle of this.”

The CEO of IBM has pledged to recruit 25,000 Americans over the next four years, but wants Uncle Sam to pay for it. This is the CEO’s present to Trump during the tech meeting in New York. IBM has more workers in India than the US.

The number of Americans seeking refugee status in Canada has experienced a significant bump this year – maybe because of Trump’s win – increasing more than five times in November 2016 from the same period a year earlier. A mere 170 Americans claimed asylum at Canada’s land borders through the first 11 months of this year [it was 73 in 2015 for the first 11 months]. Yet that was more than twice the total from 2015 – and it was led by a noticeable five-fold increase in the month of November, with 28 people claiming refugee status last month compared with merely five in November 2015. For 2015, no successful U.S. refugee claims last year before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Trump related?

 

Recounts and hacking elections

There was some grumblings by the right wing in the US when Green Party leader, Jill Stein, was requesting recounts in three states. They should have nothing to fear.

They are assuming that she did it so that maybe the vote would change and Hillary Clinton would take the states. They also said it was a waste of money.

They were wrong on both accounts. Donald Trump has enough of a lead that unless something was very fishy, he would still win all three states. As well Stein’s supporters were paying millions fore recounts

[And the only way Clinton could win the election is if she won all three recounts. Unlikely.]

Even if there wasn’t a recount, it is still a way to audit the election results to show that the votes were counted [roughly] correctly. I think most people want a fair election and verifying that the count was accurate is one way.

If there were more votes counted on election night or in the recount, then something is fishy. While there will probably be a very small discrepancy in the number of votes counted, if there was a big difference [but not enough to change the final results] then there should be a bit of worrying. [Did someone on purposely count wrong?]

Similarly, the right wing [well mostly Trump and his supporters] arguing that no foreign government [think of some country in eastern Europe] has meddled in the US election. Supposedly both the Democratic and Republican parties were hacked and yet only the Democrats had their dirty laundry leaked. Why is that? Of course Trump is chummy with Russian dictator [or President] Vladimir Poutine. Would Mr. Poutine want to hurt his buddy?

And of course Trump is denying it even though he [as usual] has no facts that Russia was not involved. He even went after the CIA giving the lousy excuse about the so-called weapons of mass destruction excuse to invade Iraq. Meanwhile he forgets of what the CIA has stopped from happening. [I guess those security briefings he is missing would shed some light. Either that or he could ask what the CIA has done for the country?]

Wouldn’t it be proper to actually have these issues thoroughly checked once and for all so that American citizens can be at ease. Consider it an audit to show the American citizens that their voting rights aren’t being attacked.

For some countries, if a foreign country meddled in another country’s election, it could lead to war.

 

 

America has spoken….

Well the Americans have spoken….

And good luck to them for the next 4 years.

Donald Trump defied the odds [if the right word] and became the 45th President of the United States.

The Democratic voters failed Hillary Clinton in the battleground states including Ohio, Michigan and Florida in addition to states she should have won [Pennsylvania was a big blow. She had a lead around midnight.]

To further see where Clinton lost, consider the fact that since April she hadn’t visited Wisconsin – one of the states she lost but should of won.

As for her faults, she had Email server issues, Benghazi reoccurrences, Husband Bill’s baggage and the fact that Clinton is a wooden campaigner with a tendency to put small policy things ahead of an actual policy vision.

Interesting, Clinton actually has less white voters voting for her than Obama while Trump actually had more minorities [even Latinos] that Mitt Romney who ran against Barrack Obama.

If you remove the super delegates during the primaries, Clinton didn’t do too well against Bernie Sanders. It showed you that she got in because she wasn’t much stronger than Sanders.

The question would be if there was a different candidate other than Clinton [or even Trump] instead. If Obama [if he wasn’t President] running against Trump or Mitt Romney or John McCain running against Clinton, would the outcome be different? Each of these three have fairly squeaky clean images. None had a spouse who was President. None held a cabinet post before.

The stock markets had dropped overnight but the Japanese and Mexican stock market took some of the biggest hits. The latter because the Mexican peso was already hurting because of the nervousness of a Trump win. Surprising the North American markets went back to positive territory by midday.

A question will be whether he stays for four years. Already some speculated that he may become bored and bow out before the 4 years. Unlikely. One other thought is that he was voted in as the oldest elected President. Will he have a medical issue that forces him to leave as he is already the oldest President on election day in US history. [A reminder that he claimed throughout the election that he was healthier than Clinton].

His friend/puppet-master Vladimir Poutine contacted him early Wednesday.

Many world leaders gave the standard congratulation comments but I’m wondering how many were sincere.

Unfortunately even the far right wing leaders in France and Germany were happy as well.

When it looked like he would win the election, he probably celebrated by excusing himself to go to the washroom, grabbed a couple of young female interns and groped them. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m sure certain areas of the US were out of moonshine and deep fried Oreos after the celebrations were over. 🙂

 

 

 

Some bit of voting commentary for the US election

A short bit of commentary before the big vote in the US tomorrow.

First, after reading articles about the crazy voting issues that are affecting many states, it is high time that the federal government intervene.

They should allow a minimum requirements set for any voting. For example, the number of hours the voting booth will be available on Election Day or the [minimum] type of voter ID required. The state could add to that but federal rules would be the minimum. Say the federal government allows a minimum of 10 hours for voting, the state could stay open for more than that but not less.

They should follow the Canadian example where when a Canadian does his/her taxes in the spring of every year, they confirm to be on the voters list. [Note that even if you pay no taxes (i.e. didn’t work that year) you are still required to submit a tax form.] Those that do not submit a tax form are most likely left off voting lists but probably can request to be added.

This will remove some of the confusion in the US where some states removed votes who [for example] didn’t vote in the previous election. But it will also have removed those who have moved to other states [or countries] as well as those that are deceased.

Advance polling is also all over the place. Not all states allow it. Some offer it over a month in advance.

Voting ID is another issue. In Canada a driver’s license, passport or a provincial medical/health card are allowed or a combination of others.
Some states allow voters to be pulled if an ordinary citizen challenges on why a person should be allowed to vote. Theoretically you could get your nemesis off the voters list.

Finally, some consider Canada the 51st state because Canada and US ties are close in many areas from security, to transportation to area codes. Maybe it’s time that Canada had a right to vote? After all Canada has to put up with this mess from them every day of the year.