Trump’s national emergency challenged on all fronts

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

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

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

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

Right after declaring a national emergency, Trump went golfing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The aftermath of Kavanaugh’s confirmation

“I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation, our people and our beloved Constitution,” Donald Trump told thousands of supporters in Topeka after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.

“You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob, and that’s what they’ve [Democrats] become,” he said. Maybe they came “angry” because of the how Trump polarized the country. Can you name any President in US history that has name called the other party, let alone foreign leaders, fellow US politicians, etc.

In the same “I’ve got more Indian blood in me than Pocahontas, and I have none,” he said of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, mocking her claims of Native American heritage. “I have high cheekbones too. Hey maybe I’m an Indian.” Warren is one of the front runners to be the Democrat’s 2020 nominee for President.

Trump tweeted: “The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!” Ya. Just like his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s. As well the [Washington] Capitol Police said 160 protesters were arrested. So all but 40 were arrested?

Trump told reporters aboard the flight he is certain one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, California professor Christine Blasey Ford, named the wrong person when she identified Kavanaugh as the man who assaulted her when the two were in high school. “I’m a hundred percent. I’m a 100%. I have no doubt,” he said. Maybe he knows who did assault her.

Even after Kavanaugh was confirmed and before he was sworn in, Trump continued to go after the Democrats with various non-presidential like comments.

Sometimes we don’t know what Trump was thinking. In addition to be sworn in at the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s swearing in was done a couple of days later at the White House. This hasn’t been done before. Was it for show? At that time he ranted against the Democrats, Kavanaugh’s accusers, etc.

Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic 2016 election opponent, said “What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court.” You know that trump will respond to this.

In case you wondered, 51% of Americans in a poll opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination and 41% approved. I am guess the majority of the approvals are Republicans.

Trump said he has no plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, delivering a reprieve for the Justice Department official whose future has been the source of intense speculation for two weeks. But as you know, Trump has changes his mind as often as he changes his underwear [hopefully at least once a day on the latter].

He still even managed to thrown in his two favorite words [out of nowhere] in the middle of a sentence that had little to do with it “no collusion”. But Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions career in the government most likely will not go past Trump’s first [and only] term.

Seems Trump has nothing else to do, with Hurricane Michael aiming for Florida and beyond, just barely confirming Kavanaugh, deteriorating relationships with Russia, China and North Korea by deciding to “write” an op-ed piece in USA Today. [Did he really write it?] Trump claims the Democrats want to outlaw private health care plans and taking away freedom to choose plans in something called “Medicare for All” and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years. Now of course Trump selectively likes to choose his information [cherry pick]. For example, the cost is based solely on a single individual’s findings and right leaning.

“Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare.” Even if the amount is correct, he’s been in office for close to two years and has done nothing to fix the problem.

“Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care,” except the Democrats are pushing for it as it is based on left leaning ideology.

“The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.” He really is going for the fear factor isn’t he?

“Virtually everywhere it has been tried, socialism has brought suffering, misery and decay.” Right, like in Canada, Finland, Norway,….

“As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients…” He’s already looking at 2020?

Major newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe said they would not have published Trump’s op-ed because of the number of inaccuracies or outright lies. The author would have been given time to correct the issues or it wouldn’t be published.

Trump flew north to Erie, Pennsylvania, while the 150 mph winds of Hurricane Michael raged 1,000 miles to the south, as part of his blitz of key battlegrounds ahead of the midterm elections. “We have thousands of people lined up, so we wanted to make this stop,” Trump told reporters at Erie’s airport. Supposedly, rump had been urged not to cancel by local party officials.

But these rallies are supposed to be for the candidates running in those locations. When Trump attends one, he spends an hour talking or whining about everything and then takes a few minutes to talk about the candidates – some whom he have never met until just prior to the event.

By Trump’s calculation there were somewhere between 32,000 and 37,000 people inside and outside watching the speech in Erie, Pennsylvania on Wednesday. According to the Erie fire chief, there were 9,000 people in the arena and another 3,000 watching outside. So 12,000 total.

The hurricane hit some of the most fertile areas of Trump country — where a massive turnout helped him overturn expectations in the Sunshine State in 2016. So he wouldn’t expect to lose too many Trump voters if he went to a rally elsewhere than monitor the hurricane from Washington or elsewhere.

Is there any relation between Nikki Haley resigning and the Kavanaugh confirmation? Maybe. She “roasted” Blasey Ford one day and the next day gave Trump her resignation letter. Then she officially announces her resignation the day after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Unsure if he was joking or not but Trump had commented that maybe his daughter, Ivanka, be appointed to replace Haley. Trump would love that as someone [we assume] he can trust, but it is a position that requires confirmation.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to introduce legislation this week that will fully fund the proposed Trump Wall along the US-Mexico border with a whopping $23.4 billion price tag. As the legislation is still being written, it’s not clear if the package would have any element of the wall paid for by Mexico, as Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail. [Does that price tag seem a bit low?]

Aides in both chambers, in both parties, think the fight over wall funding levels after the election could lead to a government shutdown — something Trump himself has advocated as part of a negotiating strategy. Even if the bill passed the House, it would need 60 votes to clear the Senate, an unlikely threshold to reach.

Trump escalated his attack on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases, asserting that “the Fed is out of control” and blaming it for this week’s plunge in stock prices. While campaigning in 2016, Trump had been highly critical of the Fed, contending that under Chair Janet Yellen, the Fed was keeping rates abnormally low to try to help Democrats. But until this summer, he had lodged no criticism of the Fed’s rate hikes. So I guess they weren’t helping the Democrats.

Hope Hicks, previously one of President Trump’s closest aides, is joining FOX as executive vice president and chief communications officer, which means she will run public relations and other aspects of the TV company. She will not officially start work until early 2019 — because FOX is in the midst of a major corporate transaction. Not bad for a 29 year old!

Rapper Kanye West met with Trump, telling him in an Oval Office meeting before reporters why he supports the Republican. “There was something about putting this hat on that made me feel like Superman,” West said. ” He might not have thought he’d have a crazy mother-f***r like me (supporting him).” No f***ing shit.

In an interview with Fox, “I have a lot of African-American support, and a lot has developed over the last little while with Kanye coming out, and Jim Brown’s been there for a long time.” In a recent interview, just more than 1 in 4 non-white voters approved of the job Trump is doing. “When Kanye came out very strongly a number of months ago, something happened. My polls went up, like, 25%.” Trump makes it as if Kanye is gay.

After Taylor Swift announced that she would support two Democrats in her home state of Tennessee, Trump commented that “I’m sure Taylor Swift has nothing — or doesn’t know anything about her (Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn),” Trump said and then he added, with a laugh: “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25% less now, OK?”

Seems Swift knows enough about Blackburn [maybe even more than Trump] when she tweeted “She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act….” [and so on].

Trump has either held a rally or visited one of his own properties on 48 of the past 92 days; that is, since June 7. He’s probably played golf on at least 30 of those days, about a third. Over the course of his presidency, the figures are more modest. He’s visited one of his own properties on about 33 percent of days and probably played golf on about 22 percent of the days he’s been president. President Obama played 306 rounds as president, over eight years. In fewer than two years, Trump has probably played 129.

During a rally in Lebanon, Ohio, Trump called Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee “a great general,” and said President Abraham Lincoln “almost developed a phobia” over Lee’s defeat. How does he know this?

Almost two years after Trump’s win, the US Postal Service has been operating on an emergency basis because of a lack of confirmed members.

Melania Trump says she could be one of “the most bullied person” in the world. She doesn’t say how or from whom. Critics have pointed out that her husband routinely mocks people for their looks and for what he says is a lack of talent or intelligence.

She also says there are people in the White House whom she and the husband can’t trust. She didn’t name names but said she let her husband know about them.

When asked in an interview about the alleged affairs Trump has had, Melania said “It is not concern and focus of mine….. I have much more important things to think about and to do.”

From an old interview, we’ve know that Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani is probably a  liar when he said that Melania doesn’t believe Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels when Melania’s communication director said she never spoke to Giuliani about it.

 

Trump just loves to change his tune

Special counsel Robert Mueller seems to have built in safeguards to discourage Donald Trump from pardoning Paul Manafort. The plea deal Mueller struck with Manafort contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage the former Trump aide from seeking a pardon and to rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant.

A part of the deal says that if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors immediately have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed previously or confessed to during recent plea negotiations.

The agreement also says prosecutors can come after the five identified homes or apartments, three bank accounts and a life insurance policy now or at any point in the future “without regard to the status of his criminal conviction.”

“We had a good saying that we’ve held firm to this day, as the dean was reminding me before the talk, which was ‘What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep,” Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said in a 2015 speech at Catholic University of America’s law school.

Kavanaugh’s nomination vote has been delayed until the following week to allow the Judiciary Committee to question him as well as his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, regarding his alleged sexual assault on her when she was 15.

Once again, unsure if Trump is human. Being insensitive, Trump said of the hardship on Kavanaugh’s family’s life and of course Kavanaugh with Trump saying “hurting someone’s life very badly” and his reputation.

Trump claims that the FBI “doesn’t do that” that is investigate whether what Ford said was true. But in fact, the FBI don’t investigate issues like this unless ordered to do so. There is a difference.

Not surprising Ford’s life has been threatened. FBI investigating. [See Trump, something they actually do.]

When Trump finally addressed the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh were quietly stunned when Trump said the process should be followed and the accuser should be heard. In recent days, Trump has bragged about the positive coverage he’s received for his response, according to multiple sources. This helped his ego. Not really positive coverage – more like stunned.

You knew it wouldn’t last long. Trump, in a series of tweets, deviated from his previously measured comments about Ford who has accused Kavanugh of sexual assault, claiming that if the attack she alleges “was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities”. He also said Kavanaugh is “under assault by radical left wing politicians.”

Trump asked why no one called the Federal Bureau of Investigation 36 years ago. The FBI would not have jurisdiction in the case at the time of the alleged assault. Among the most common reasons for not reporting these incidents were fear of reprisal, shame and a belief that authorities could or would do nothing to help. [Maybe something Trump will learn once he is charged with those alleged assaults from him.]

Ford said she told no one at the time what had happened to her, and was terrified of punishment from her parents if they realized she had been at a party where underage drinking was happening.

“There’s no reason to attack her. The president is defending his nomination to the United States Supreme Court as a man of character, integrity, impeccable academic and judicial qualifications,” counselor to Trump, Kellyanne The Witch Conway said when asked about Trump’s original measured response to the allegations. How she was wrong…. again. Just a few days before Trump said “Why would I attack her?”

In his May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, it makes Trump more vulnerable to claims that he obstructed justice. So Trump’s legal team have come up with a curious explanation: The interview was “edited” and that’s why people are confused about what Trump meant. Of course no evidence of this is provided.

Previously NBC announced an interview with Trump. The next day, Trump fired FBI director James Comey. White House stated that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had officially recommended Comey’s firing, and Trump had just accepted the recommendation.

But Trump went off script saying to Holt, “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.” The camera stayed on Trump the entire time.

Trump vowed to eradicate a “lingering stench” at the Justice Department, hours after it was reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed wearing a “wire” to record conversations with Trump and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office according to sources familiar with memos authored by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe documenting the discussions.

“But we had some real bad ones — you see what’s happened at the FBI, they’re all gone, they’re all gone, they’re all gone. But there’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.” Hmmm. Only 3 know FBI agents have left.

“I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false,” Rosenstein said.

Trump has to get political even in a disaster. the only question is what took him so long. For example “… But don’t be fooled, at some point in the near future the Democrats will start ranting that FEMA, our Military, and our First Responders, who are all unbelievable, are a disaster and not doing a good job. This will be a total lie, but that’s what they do, and everybody knows it!”

In an interview with The Hill, Trump said about Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.” He also said that he is “very disappointed” in him.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell claims that Trump recently suggested Spain should build a wall across the Sahara desert to deal with the issue of migration from Africa. Notice the problem? The Sahara desert isn’t in Spain. Most of the migrants come in from the sea.

The Chinese government said that it would impose tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration’s announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs. The White House warned previously that it would respond to any retaliation from Beijing with yet more tariffs.

Then Trump tweeted “China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me.” Hmmm. When did they “openly state” that? If you remove farmers, ranchers and industrial workers, what is left to apply tariffs to after you applied 4 times the amount on China?

“Canada has taken advantage of our country for a long time” said Trump. Let’s see. 325 million in the US [excluding illegals], 37 million in Canada. So the US has 9 times the number of people and yet couldn’t make a deal Trump would like? On the other hand, he doesn’t like anything related to trade unless he can slap on tariffs or knows he got a steal of a deal.

Trump tweeted “Our Steel Industry is the talk of the World. It has been given new life, and is thriving. Billions of Dollars is being spent on new plants all around the country!” Yes, since tariffs were imposed on July 1st, steel plants have suddenly popped up all over the US. I think not. If everything goes well, most steel plants take at least 20 months to build and that’s only after approvals and funding are done.

“Tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with Billions of Dollars, and Jobs, flowing into our Country – and yet cost increases have thus far been almost unnoticeable,” Trump tweeted. But this is Trump. So whatever he said usually is a streaming pile of rubbish. Already prices of vehicle and infrastructure have increased.

Yes. The US economy is doing so well, Wells Fargo is adding to the unemployment lines. Wells Fargo plans to cut as many as 26,500 jobs over three years as the troubled bank grapples with the rise of online banking and soaring legal bills. It sold off branches in 3 mid-west states in June.

The Trump administration’s trade wars with China, Canada and others are starting to affect the US. Alibaba is dropping its promise to create 1 million jobs in the US. This came after Walmart asked the Trump administration to walk back its plan to put tariffs on Christmas lights, shampoo, dog food, luggage, mattresses, handbags, backpacks, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, cooking grills, cable cords and air conditioners.

Other retailers and consumer goods companies, including Ace Hardware, Target and Joann fabric and craft stores, also lobbied the administration. The administration imposed tariffs on those goods – although it did spare bicycle helmets, high chairs, car seats and playpens from the final list. It also left off Apple Watches and Air Pods, a reprieve for Apple.

Trump’s refugee plan for the coming year would nearly halve the number of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. By contrast, some regions would see increased caps. The number of refugees from Latin America would double in fiscal year 2019.

Trump tweeted “Today, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we share our gratitude for all the ways Hispanic-Americans make our country flourish and prosper. Today, and every day, we honor, cherish, and celebrate Hispanic-American Workers, Families, Students, Businesses, and Leaders…” After his comments about Hispanics, I’m sure it wasn’t him who tweeted those words.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of CNN’s Anderson Cooper about a picture in water in Hurricane “Florence” and made some dumb whiney comments. In fact the picture is 10 years ago. What a genius…

A little reminder that the blog’s primary focus is on Donald Trump and not about US politics in general. Therefore you won’t see the blog detailing more about [for example] the Kavanaugh/Ford legal mess unless Trump gets involved or one of his subordinates if of use. The economy, however, would be included as it is related to the administration’s policies.

Trump gives a no confidence vote to the FBI and DoJ

House Republicans, with the approval of Donald Trump, released a disputed GOP intelligence memo that alleges FBI abuses of its surveillance authority. The memo from the GOP and House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes alleges that then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that no surveillance warrant would have been sought for a Trump campaign aide without a disputed opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia.

The memo alleges that ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele had an anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations that were not included in the FISA application. Senior DOJ officials knew about Steele’s anti-Trump bias, according to the memo. Nunes admits he did not read the FISA applications before writing the memo.

A FISA court granted a warrant to monitor former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and approved three subsequent renewals during the Trump administration, according to the memo. A judge has to approve of the warrant and renewals which includes verifying the evidence.

The memo alleges that the FISA application cited a September 2016 Yahoo News article on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow, but the application “incorrectly assesses that Steele did not provide information to Yahoo News. … The article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo news,” the memo states. They and discussed quid-pro-quo deals relating to sanctions, business opportunities and Russia’s interference in the election.

The Nunes memo glaringly omits any revelation of what other supporting information might have been submitted to the FISA judge, choosing instead to focus on cherry-picked alleged omissions.

Former FBI Director James Comey signed three applications, and McCabe and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signed at least one. But the memo also states that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed off on at least one FISA application for Page. Rosenstein’s role in renewing the FISA warrants has sparked Trump’s ire. Dana Boente, who is currently the FBI general counsel and was appointed by Trump’s FBI director, signed off as well on one or more of the applications.

Trump believes the purported bias was a “disgrace” and said certain people should be “ashamed of themselves.” When asked whether he retained confidence in Rosenstein or if he planned to fire him, Trump said “You figure that one out.” What he is forgetting that many he is blaming were appointed by himself or his administration. This includes McCabe and Rosenstein.

Trump continues to tell his associates he believes the highly controversial Republican memo would expose bias within the agency’s top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations are prejudiced against him. [Must be interesting to be a FBI agent when the president of the US doesn’t trust you. Would you want to take a bullet for him?]

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff is accusing Nunes of sending a different version of the memo, crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, alleging FBI surveillance abuses to the White House than what the committee approved. This would now make four versions of the same memo are around.

Justice Department and intelligence community, both of which opposed the release of the document, which is based on classified intelligence.

Sen. John McCain blasted Trump for approving the release of the highly controversial GOP-Nunes memo, saying “if we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.” McCain characterized the memo and its release as “partisan attacks” on the FBI and the Department of Justice.

FBI Director Christopher Wray sent a striking signal to the White House, issuing a rare public warning that a controversial Republican memo about the FBI’s surveillance practices omits key information that could impact its veracity. Trump had already been angered by a letter that the Justice Department sent to the House Intelligence Committee last week warning the release would be “extraordinarily reckless.”

“With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Specifically, these intelligence officials are concerned that the memo will reveal what goes into a decision to monitor targets, including what kinds of communications are targeted, and how those communications are intercepted.

Trump slammed McCabe, who has resigned, and said that he didn’t remember asking who the long-time law enforcement official voted for in 2016 in May 2017. McCabe did not vote in the 2016 presidential general election, but did vote in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. McCabe was set to leave the FBI later in the year.

The Dow closed down 666 points [hmmmm], or 2.5%, its biggest percentage decline since the Brexit turmoil in June 2016 and steepest point decline since the 2008 financial crisis. The drop is on the same day as the memo being released by the Trump administration.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says Russia did meddle in the US election – going against Trump’s beliefs.

Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller and the Russia investigation, could be next to be fired. Trump is frustrated with the way the investigation has gone and may put the blame on him. He could argue that Rosenstein failed to scrutinize the information initially used to request the warrant and therefore didn’t do his due diligence.

The Trump administration has released a sweeping list of prominent Russian business and political figures, in defiance of Moscow and implementing a Congressional law designed to punish Russia for election meddling. It listed every senior member of the political administration at the Kremlin, and every Russian oligarch with a net worth of $1 billion or more. The administration stopped short of imposing any new punishments, saying the legislation was already doing its job.

Russia said a US Treasury report that could extend sanctions against Moscow for meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections is “a direct and obvious attempt” to interfere in its own upcoming presidential vote. They claim this because the Treasury must send Congress a list of rich Russian business figures and detail their ties to Russian President Vladimir Poutine.

Former Trump team legal spokesperson Mark Corallo had concerns that White House communications director Hope Hicks could be considering obstructing justice after a comment she reportedly made about emails between Donald Trump Jr. and Russians, according to a New York Times story. Hicks allegedly told President Donald Trump on a conference call that the Trump Jr. emails “will never get out.”

Unsure how US sanctions [in the US] affect some billionaires in Russia and their election unless the billionaires are using their US money to support Poutine. Russian elections are not for another 7 weeks or so in which Poutine is expected to easily win a fourth term in office [the main opposition leader is barred from running as he has a conviction for embezzlement, a charge that critics say is politically motivated.].

Haley is rumored to have an affair with Trump. The Grammy Awards had a skit of various celebrities who were reading from Michael Wolff’s best seller about Trump, Fire and Fury. She tweeted her disapproval over a skit involving Hillary Clinton candidate “auditioning” to perform the audio version of the book. She didn’t seem to care about the others in the skit.

Donald Trump Jr., tweeted his displeasure as well as some snark at Clinton claiming it was “a great consolation prize for losing the presidency”.

As if Trump’s end of the week wasn’t busy enough, Trump threatened to cut off aid to countries that allow drugs into the United States during a visit to the Customs and Border Protection National Training Center in Virginia. Trump specifically name-checked El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico in his criticism of countries whose citizens are coming into the United States illegally. [Maybe it’s cheaper if those countries cracked down on smuggling than him building his wall. Note that Guatemala is/was in Trump’s good graces when they agreed to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following the US’ decision].

Trump’s campaign website is offering this chance for a few seconds of fame to supporters who donate to his re-election effort. The campaign’s original pitch was $35, but a subsequent email from the Trump campaign provided a link for donors to contribute as little as $1 to have their name displayed during a livestream of President Trump’s State of the Union address.

Melania Trump went to the State of the Union before her hubby. White House Press Secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders claims it is to greet various politicians [as if she knows them by name] while the hubby can walk straight in.

Almost half of Americans who watched President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address [48%] say they had a “very positive” impression of the speech, down from 57% of speech-watchers after his first address to match Barack Obama’s rating after his first State of the Union address, according to a conducted by SSRS. There were more Republican voters who were watching the speech as SSRS conducted the poll only for those watching

Where have we heard this before? Trump said the 45.6 million people who watched his State of the Union was “the highest number in history.” Obama, Bush and Clinton had higher. He did tell the truth [for once] when he said Fox “beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in.”

Trump, in remarks at a Republican congressional retreat in West Virginia, knocked Democrats for a lack of applause or standing up during his State of the Union address and “To get it done we’ll have to make some compromises unless we elect more Republicans.”

Outside lawyers created a limited liability company called the Patriot Legal Expenses Fund Trust, which will raise money from donors to pay legal expenses for multiple individuals, according to emails between those attorneys and a government agency. This is for White House officials and former Trump campaign aides embroiled in the Russia investigation.

It will “pay for or help defray legal expenses, which can include attorneys’ fees, court filing fees, litigation costs or other related fees and costs,” according to a draft document.

This week was so busy [particularly with the memo], that expect another blog posting sometime early next week.

 

“I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings” – Trump

Considering that Donald Trump tweeted less this week there still was plenty of news.

“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump tweeted. So supposedly he personally didn’t record, but doesn’t rule out that someone else did.

But, Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, said earlier in June that Trump told him during interviews that he was recording their conversations. But that when Trump sat down for a deposition, Trump “essentially” said he used the threat of tapes to “intimidate” him.

Comey hopes there are tapes as it would once and for all clear [most] things up.

“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!” Trump said in a tweet last week that signified an attempt to undermine both special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe.

“The President is not a subject or target of an investigation. That tweet was in response to a Washington Post story that ran with five unnamed sources….” said Jay Sekulow, a Trump legal adviser. This contradicted Trump’s statement where he previously said he was under investigation. But trump’s tweet made no reference to the Washington post or anything else. Then, in a subsequent interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Sekulow sowed further confusion by saying Trump was under investigation — then denied he said anything of the sort. He also said the tweet was taken “out of context”. How do you do that in 140 characters?

Meantime, the administration is having second thoughts of Mueller heading the investigation even with his credentials because Mueller is said to be friends with Comey [in addition to previously mentioning that a few of Mueller’s people donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign]. The top level enforcement community is a small community – so of course Mueller knows Comey. And why now after Mueller has been on the job for weeks?

Any though of Trump getting rid of Mueller [he can’t actually Mueller but Rosenstein can] would add to the misery for Trump. It would [again] show that Trump is obstructing justice.

By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans say they are more likely to believe former FBI Director James Comey than President Donald Trump when it comes to their differing accounts of events that led up to Comey’s firing, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. By party, 76 percent of Democrats side with Comey, while 50 percent of Republicans believe Trump. Independents break for Comey over Trump, 47 percent to 17 percent. Just 27 percent approve of Comey’s ouster.

Surprise! Surprise! Trump ranted on the special elections. But he couldn’t get the number of wins right! “Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0”. There were 4 wins and those elections took place in districts where the Republicans always won. He shouldn’t be too happy. For all of them, the percentage between the two candidates shrunk between this election and last November. So some Republicans aren’t happy or didn’t vote.

Scratch your head time. He tweeted “Democrats would do much better as a party if they got together with Republicans on Healthcare,Tax Cuts,Security.”

Trump’s nominee to be the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, represented an American energy executive in 2006 who was being criminally investigated by the Russian government. The detail, which was included on Wray’s biography on the website of the law firm King and Spalding dating back to 2009, was removed in 2017.

Senate armed services committee Chairman John McCain threatened to block Trump’s deputy defense secretary nominee. McCain charged that Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan was ducking questions during his confirmation hearing, particularly over his response in a written statement that he would look into providing military assistance to Ukraine.

The Senate released their secretive health care bill. The legislation would still make major changes to the nation’s health care system, repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, drastically cutting back federal support of Medicaid [phase out from 2022 to 2024], eliminating Obamacare’s taxes on the wealthy, insurers and others. The Senate plan however would keep Obamacare’s subsidies to help people pay for individual coverage. The bill would shrink the program even more over time by pegging the annual growth rate of those funds to standard inflation. This would likely force states to cut enrollment, benefits or provider payments.

Obamacare’s premium subsidies structure would be maintained, but tighten the eligibility criteria starting in 2020. Fewer middle class folks would get help because only those earning up to 350% of the poverty level would qualify, rather than the 400% threshold contained in Obamacare. But it would also open up the subsidies to enrollees below the poverty level so those living in states that didn’t expand Medicaid could get some assistance.

The House bill would defund Planned Parenthood for one year. The bill would also aim to shore up the existing Obamacare market by allocating funds for the cost-sharing subsidies until 2019.

So far, 5 GOP senators won’t agree with the bill. If more than 2 say no, the bill won’t pass.

Trump suggested that Otto Warmbier, the American who died days after his release from North Korea, would still be alive if he had been released sooner. He was in prison in North Korea for 17+ months. “He should have been brought home a long time ago,” Trump said. North Korea only informed the US of Warmbier’s medical condition earlier this month. So Trump has been in office for roughly 6 months now. What did he do? White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the US will “continue to apply economic and political pressure” to change North Korea’s behavior. So far, that hasn’t done much. Look at the rockets they continue to test. In the meantime, there are still 3 other Americans in North Korea – two were recently “arrested” and “convicted”. What is he waiting for?

Wow. The Trump administration had some big news [they think]. After the death of Otto Warmbier, they want to add North Korea to the so-called “Travel Ban”. Very few go to North Korea [and fewer even now as the main tour operator to North Korea is refusing Americans]. The administration is trying to show it isn’t just Muslims. Sure.

Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton – who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned – to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York. Cronyism.

As mentioned previously, Trump has named a top donor and fundraiser as ambassador to Canada by choosing Kelly Knight Craft for the post in February and had the State Department vet her, but did not formally nominate her until last week. Craft must now be confirmed by the Senate. She will be part of the team fixing/renegotiating NAFTA and other agreements with Canada. And her experience?

The White House is mulling a new role for White House press secretary Sean Spicer that would take him away from the podium and into a different role inside the West Wing, a White House official said. Unsure what Melissa McCarthy [who portrayed him on Saturday Night Live last season] will do this fall.

The Congressional Black Caucus will reportedly decline to meet with Trump. The lawmakers will reject a meeting with Trump, noting they don’t believe the Trump administration has done anything to support the priorities of the group. “No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” said one senior Democratic aide.

A stunning 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed at the annual Yale CEO Summit give Trump an “F” for his first 130 days in office. The survey, released earlier this week, found that another 21% give Trump’s performance a “D” so far. Just 1% of the 125 leaders polled awarded the billionaire an “A.” The survey was a cross-section of the business community, including some who are quite pro-Trump.

Two-thirds of respondents indicated that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord diminished America’s global standing. Another 86% expressed concern about Trump minimizing Russian security mischief. Business leaders are not impressed with Trump’s budget either. Three-fourths of survey respondents said the administration’s budget proposal is not sound. The Goldman Sachs CEO even sent his first-ever tweet to slam the Paris accord move as a “setback” for U.S. leadership in the world. Just 42% of leaders surveyed by Yale think Trump will pass corporate tax reform.

Recent White House briefings now include no audio or no video. So anything said by a Trump official can’t bite them in the romp.

For the second time in almost 6 months, Trump invited the CEOs of major tech companies to visit him. Trump introduced the tech executives as “special people” who employ “hundreds of thousands” of American workers and are “on the absolute cutting edge of innovation.” Maybe “hundreds of thousands” of American workers but probably a lot more elsewhere. The CEOs asked questions about H-1B visas [normally given to tech people], immigration, climate control, “travel” ban, etc.

From a text message from White House adviser Steven Bannon to a reporter explaining why Sean Spicer has spent less and less time in front of cameras at the podium. “Sean got fatter,” texted Bannon. Republicans said he was joking. Still. If true [and I’m doubting it], is it polite to say in public that to a fellow co-worker who also works in the government?

Trump will host his first re-election campaign fundraising event next Wednesday at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that the Trump administration would maintain an Obama-era program providing protection to undocumented immigrants brought to the US illegally as children by their parents. This breaks another election promise.

White House social media director Dan Scavino violated the law when he used an official-looking Twitter account for campaign purposes, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel has concluded, issuing Scavino a letter of admonishment. Scavino violated the Hatch Act, which bars most executive branch officials from using their government positions to influence elections by tweeting “@realDonaldTrump is bringing auto plants & jobs back to Michigan. @justinamash is a big liability,” Scavino wrote on April 1. “#TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary.”

Ivanka Trump said she is surprised by the “viciousness” of the media covering her father’s presidency. [Not really surprised because of how her father has treated most of the media.] “My father felt very vindicated in all the statements that he’s [James Comey] been making and feels incredibly optimistic,” she said. She interprets Comey’s comments as if Trump will never be implicated but things can happen.

The group VoteVets [with 500,000 military veterans and families] has been blocked from Trump’s Tweeter account access. The group has in the past criticized the president over his budget proposal, Republicans attempts to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and the president’s executive order temporarily barring individuals from certain predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States.

The Golden State Warriors may have won the NBA championships, but many on the team including the team’s coach, Steve Kerr, are not fans of Trump. Don’t expect them to show up for the standard visit to the White House. Unsure about the NHL’s Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins.

New Jersey parents are complaining their kids’ support for Donald Trump was erased from a high school yearbook. The school is investigating who removed the text from pictures and in one case a quote from Trump. They want the year book to be reissued. [Good luck there. Cost a lot of money to do so.] While investigation continues, a teacher involved in the publication has been suspended.

Hudson’s Bay — owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor — said it is cutting its workforce by 2,000 jobs. Unsure how many US jobs. Macy’s said earlier this year that it will close 68 stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Ascena Retail Group — which owns the Ann Taylor, Dress Barn, Loft, Lane Bryant, Justice, Maurices and Catherines stores — plans to shutter between 250 and 650 locations over the next two years. Unknown number of jobs lost.

JC Penney is shutting down 138 stores by August. Unknown number of jobs lost. Bebe said it planned to shut down all of its stores by the end of May. Unknown number of jobs lost. GameStop said in March it will close more than 100 retail locations. Unknown number of jobs lost. The parent company of Kmart and Sears said in January it will shutter 150 stores. Unknown number of jobs lost.

Gymboree filed for bankruptcy protections with 1300 stores and 12,000 employees. Verizon expects to cut as many as 2,100 employees with the purchase of Yahoo’s core Internet assets.

Retail bankruptcies are up about 30% so far this year. Total store closings across the U.S. are likely to reach record levels this year.

Yes. The American economy is doing well under this presidency. Not.

Trump’s job approval rating has dropped to 36% due to Americans’ negative reaction to his handling of the Russia investigations, a new CBS News poll has found. From CBS, it was 41% in April. 63% of Americans disapproving of Trump’s response to the Russia investigation. 73% would prefer a public discussion on the Republicans’ health care replacement bill and feel they don’t have a good understanding of what the new plan would do. 67% of people believe the Republicans’ plan would hurt them more than help them.

 

Can Trump do nothing and still cause problems?

We’ll see. Trump is off to the Middle East and Europe.

Trump asked James Comey to end the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a request documented in a memo written by the former FBI director. According to Comey’s memo, Trump said “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” This is obstruction of justice.

At one point, Trump claimed that he fired Comey on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Previously he said he would fire Comey regardless of Rosenstein’s recommendation. But Rosenstein said Trump was ready to fire Comey prior to the release of Comey’s memo.

Meanwhile, Russian officials bragged in conversations during the presidential campaign that they had cultivated a strong relationship with former Trump adviser retired Gen. Michael Flynn and believed they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team.

Flynn told Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak, that the Trump administration would look favorably on a decision by Russia to hold off on retaliating with its own sanctions. The next day, Putin said he wouldn’t retaliate. Flynn also told Kislyak that the incoming Trump administration would revisit US sanctions on Russia once in office.

Trump bragged to two top Russian officials last week that firing “nut job” Comey eased “great pressure” on him.

Trump lashed out at the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations that his campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election, saying that it is “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” But the day before, he was happy for the investigation to once and for all clear him. The Justice Department on Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the investigation. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers. Maybe Trump has a change of heart because of Mueller.

The announcement was made by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The White House counsel’s office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed. Mueller has butted heads with the White House previously. Mueller is a lawman with deep bipartisan respect.

Trump tweeted “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!” He did not provide examples or evidence of any alleged “illegal acts” as usual. And another piece of evidence that he can’t spell.

First reactions from Congress were mainly positive. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee are among the Republicans who welcome Mueller. We will see if they have a change of heart in the upcoming months.

The author of Trump’s controversial travel ban, Stephen Miller, which targeted people from six-majority Muslim countries, is the principal speechwriter for the President’s speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Trump shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the US in a White House meeting last week. Two former officials knowledgeable of the situation confirmed. Supposedly the information Trump leaked came from Israel regarding using laptops on bombs on airlines. CNN was cautioned by Trump administration officials not to report certain details about the threat, including the city in which the intel was collected. Trump later revealed that city in a meeting with Russians.

Vladimir Poutine has said that Russia is ready to provide US Congress with a transcript of the talks between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. One has to wonder why the Russians recorded the conversation [we’ll assume without Trump’s knowledge] and whether the tapes could be doctored. How would it look if Trump allowed Putin to defend him? Is this Russia meddling in US affairs? Poutine dismissed outrage over Trump’s disclosures as U.S. politicians whipping up “anti-Russian sentiment” for being either “stupid” or “dangerous” and “political schizophrenia”.

Trump contradicted his aides-and confirmed on Twitter that he had indeed shared sensitive information: “As President I wanted to share with Russia which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.”

The disclosure put a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk and Trump later was informed that he had broken protocol.

Trump boasted about his access to classified intelligence in last week’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. An excerpt to an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” he said.

Trump spent the campaign arguing that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be locked up for careless handling of classified information. And him?

A senior White House official was asked would accelerate President Trump’s demands for a crackdown on national security leaks, the aide simply replied, “Oh, definitely.”

A senior Trump appointee involved in counter-ISIS policymaking said “I miss candidate Trump. Now he’s just a pathetic mess.” Another former FBI official said “I think he shared because he thinks he’s playing chess when he’s actually playing checkers. International affairs is not like buying a golf course.”

A former FBI official said “He thinks he’s arranging some business deal except that he’s not.”

In front of United States Coast Guard Academy graduates [a good place to mix politics, eh?], Trump complained that ” No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.” Wonder how he knows? Maybe he’ll sue the government and ask for compensation. Some in the crowd wore “Make America Great Again” hats. Wonder if his people gave them out – hats that weren’t sold in November.

In the same speech, he said “We’ve saved the second amendment,” he said, after touting his work on immigration, job creation and tax reform. What did he do again?

As of May 11, Trump’s odds of being impeached during his first term were sitting at a whopping 60 percent. The odds are part of a host of “Donald Trump Specials” offered by the Irish betting house Paddy Power. (Vegas doesn’t let you bet on anything but sports.) It includes bets that Trump will be impeached for treason (6/1 odds) and on who his next FBI Director will be (Trey Gowdy leads with 4/7 odds). On the more soothing side, Paddy Power has 13/8 odds — 38 percent — that Steve Bannon will be the next one fired from the White House.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said the wave of negative stories related to Trump and intelligence meant the White House is in a “downward spiral.” Republican Susan Collins, a Maine senator, said “Can we have a crisis-free day? That’s all I’m asking.”

Republican Senator John McCain said that the recent developments had reached “Watergate size and scale” and if Trump revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, then it is “deeply disturbing.”

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, said simply, “It would be helpful to have less drama emanating from the White House.”

In my previous blog, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that FBI employees had “lost confidence” in James Comey go. But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who works with the FBI, says FBI employees at the FBI were shocked.

In a letter sent to Republican and Democrat Congress and Senate leaders, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that Trump “intends to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding modernization” of NAFTA. The letter gives Canada and Mexico a 90-day notice before the negotiations could begin.

Nonpartisan congressional research concluded in 2015 that NAFTA had not caused an exodus of jobs, nor was it a major job creator. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 14 million US jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. Exports and imports between the three countries have boomed since NAFTA became law in 1994.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program promises to cancel any remaining student debt for those who work for the government or non-profits if they have been making on-time payments for 10 years. Many teachers, public defenders, Peace Corps workers, and law enforcement officers fit the qualifications. This numbers 400,000 student loans with some exceeding $300,000 in debt. The median borrower in the program has more than $60,000 in student debt and almost 30% of them have more than $100,000 in debt.  The Department of Education is planning to propose ending the program. Another cut from the Trump administration.

Trump signed his long-awaited executive order on cyber security, laying out his plans for addressing security in federal IT and across US infrastructure. The most ambitious mandate was that all federal IT systems move to the cloud.

One of Trump’s new surrogates, Conrad Black, looks like is defending Trump for Canadians. Black is a billionaire Canadian who spent time in prison related to 8 counts of fraud. Black also said that James Comey was not likable at the FBI.

Trump claims his book The Art of the Deal [out since 1987], is “the No. 1 selling business book of all time.” While hard to put business books in a specific category [since an biography such as the book Steve Jobs is business related], Trump’s book sold an estimated 1 million copies. In comparison, the Steve Jobs book sold 3 million copies and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sold at least 10 million copies.

Trump is taking credit for a phrase. For “prime the pump” he said ” I just… came up with it a couple days ago and I thought it was good”. It actually dates back to 1933.

A bill called Stop Waste and Misuse by the President (SWAMP) Act, states that Trump’s travel “results in the American taxpayer effectively subsidizing the president’s businesses.” The bill would also require that Trump reimburse the government for Secret Service costs derived from visits to his properties.

As the $6 million in “campaign funds” that Trump spent in the first quarter of 2017, $500,000 was directed right back into Trump-owned hotels, restaurants and golf clubs. In total, since the start of his campaign, over $14 million has been funneled back into Trump-owned properties.

Congress is set to approve $61 million to reimburse local police departments for protecting Trump and the first family when they travel outside of Washington. Most of it will head to New York as Melania and Barron are there. New York estimates it spends between $127,000 to $146,000 a day to protect the first family when Trump is not in town, and more than $308,000 a day when he visits.

The Trump administration is discontinuing a signature girls education initiative, “Let Girls Learn”, championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, according to officials. Also being modified is Michelle Obama’s lunch program. [Make America Fat Again?]
There are 238 members of the House Republican conference, and just 21 of them are women (that’s less than 9%). As for Democrats in the House, 62 of the 193 members are women (that’s 32%).

Bebe Stores [168 stores across Canada and the US with unknown number of employees] will close its stores in May adding to the other store chains that are closing stores [Macys, Sears and JC Penney among others] and those that want news owners [Neiman Marcus and Staples among others]. Trump won’t take credit but I’m sure he’ll blame the Democrats. Ford will cut roughly 9600 jobs in the US. Let’s see if Trump can save them and at what cost to taxpayers.

“South Koreans are more concerned that Trump, rather than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will make a rash military move, because of his outrageous tweets, threats of force and unpredictability,” said an intellectual from South Korea.

Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, said he was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the House-passed healthcare bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Dictatorship?

As if Trump has nothing else to butt in, he tweeted “Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader.” Manning stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks and served 7 years before being pardoned by Obama. Ungrateful because she went after Obama even though Obama released her. Wow. Trump defending Obama.

 

One wacky week with wacky Trump

Warning: It is a nutty week. This blog is “extended today”.

In a signed letter, Donald Trump informed [former] FBI Director James Comey that he was “hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” explaining that he reached the conclusion that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the bureau.” Trump was praising Comey during and after the election. 5 months later, Trump had a change of heart?

The White House said that Comey was fired based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a separate letter, Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey’s firing, arguing that it was his transgressions over the Clinton email investigation that were the cause of his dismissal. Errr. Trump didn’t even meet him. Comey was in Los Angeles.

In his letter to Comey firing him, Trump thanked him for telling him three times “that I am not under investigation.” The FBI has not confirmed that Comey ever made those assurances to the president. Former FBI agents said such a statement by the director would be all but unthinkable.

Comey reportedly thought his removal was a prank. Trump had been planning to oust Comey for at least a week Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been charged with finding a good pretext.

Then Trump tweeted “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”

Days before he was fired by Trump, Comey requested more resources to pursue his investigation into Russia’s election meddling and the possible involvement of Trump associates, U.S. officials say, fueling concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency. That same type of action help bring down Richard Nixon.

Trump said that he was going to fire Comey with or without Rosenstein’s memo criticizing the director. Meanwhile White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “…the rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” Sure Sarah. Took a poll?

Seems Trump was also jealous that Comey was getting more of the spotlight than him saying he was a show-off, agreed about Obama’s surveillance and would not exonerate him in the Russia mess. White House officials said Trump’s confidence in Comey had been eroding for months and Trump was persuaded to take the step by Justice Department officials and a scathing memo, written by Rosenstein, criticizing the director’s role in the Clinton investigation.

Andrew McCabe, top deputy to ex-FBI Director Comey, could be a contender for the Director’s role. He is now acting director. But McCabe’s actions are among the decisions being scrutinized in an ongoing Justice Department inspector general probe of the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. One issue is whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton case after his wife [running for senate] received large campaign contributions from the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally.

As well, Trump may kill the press briefings [what will Sean “Garlic” Spicer do?] by releasing press releases to keep the answers accurate. This maybe because deputy WH press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders contradicted some things Trump said.

Garlic literally hid in the bushes to avoid press after Comey was fired. Didn’t know what to do. Maybe unrelated, Spicer is spending his week at the Pentagon for Navy reserve duty for the rest of the week. Huckabee-Sanders replaced him.

“When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” Trump tweeted. Clapper, however, qualified his remarks by saying he had been unaware of an FBI investigation into the matter until Comey announced it to the public at a House hearing in March. So Trump using more outdated information.

President Barack Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser during their Oval Office meeting on November 10, former Obama administration officials confirmed to CNN.

Trump’s travel ban is back in the spotlight with a high-stakes legal battle in front of a dozen federal judges in Richmond, Virginia. Normally, such an appeal from a district court’s decision would be heard by a randomly assigned panel of three judges, and the losing party may ask for it to be reheard by the full court. Yet in this case, the judges on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided it should be heard by the full court — otherwise known as “en banc” — in the first instance. Ten of the 15 active judges on the court are either Clinton or Obama appointees.

“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” said Raul Labrador, the Republican congressman in response to a statement by a woman that the “lack of health care was essentially asking people to die.” The Democrats confirmed with this quote that they are out of touch with the average person and simply don’t understand (or don’t care) about the real-world implications of their policy proposals.

Canada may retaliate against Trump’s softwood [a.k.a. house] lumber by either adding stiff tariffs to Oregon plywood, wine, flooring, wood chips and packaging materials [a congressman from there was one of the hawks in the lumber tariffs] or maybe coal from Washington state [which is shipped through harbors in British Columbia] to Asia [Trump wants to increase coal productivity. Another option is to lean heavily on 35 states that trade quite a bit with Canada. While none of the tariffs would affect Canadians as much, it would affect 2 US industries. The Trump administration says it won’t be pressured by trade threats from the Canadian government. I guess they don’t care who gets hurt.

Several American companies that rely on Canadian softwood say thousands of American jobs are at risk unless the U.S. Department of Commerce exempts them from hefty duties imposed on imported softwood lumber.

In an interview, Trump said “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.” This won’t stop him for being prosecuted if he said something that contradicted his tax returns such as owning property in Russia.

Revelations that the sister of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, promoted a program offering a path to U.S. citizenship to Chinese backers in a Kushner family project bring new scrutiny to a foreign investor visa program. Marketing materials for the event promoted Nicole Kushner Meyer as Jared’s sister, and cited the Kushner family’s “celebrity” status. Yes, celebrities like in one of Trump’s shows. The project promoted by Meyer in Beijing is a 79-story apartment building called Kushner 1.

As part of such deals, investors typically accept below-market investment returns to qualify for a visa, allowing the developer to pocket the savings on financing costs. After as little as two years, participants can apply for a fast-track green card and later U.S. citizenship.

Meanwhile, after seeing advertisements for what was described as a “Kushner event featuring Jared’s sister,” in Beijing a Canadian reporter decided to attend. Then she was asked to leave. The Beijing-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was seated apart from her colleague, who faced similar resistance from the hosts. Some of her colleague’s video and audio was deleted by the event organizers on the Chinese side. “I later heard from another reporter — who tweeted a picture — that there was indeed a picture of President Trump … on a slide that said ‘key decision makers.'” Seems that Nicole Kushner Meyer has now been removed of her duties.

In signing an omnibus bill, Trump said in a statement: “My administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender … in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.” This could be code wording for “Unlike previous administrations, I won’t give historically black college financing, Native American housing block grants and minority business development anything more than what is required by law.” [i.e. Bare minimum.] I am assuming someone wrote this because I’m not sure how much of the constitution he knows and it doesn’t sound like him.

Maybe Trump finally did something right. The recently signed cybersecurity executive order requires federal agencies to adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (Cybersecurity Framework; the agency heads have 90 days to prepare a report describing how they will implement the Framework. The previous administration had encouraged adoption of the framework, but did not make it a requirement.

Don’t you just love Trump? “[Former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is “no evidence” of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” Except Clapper said that he was unaware of evidence suggesting there was any.

Then he said “Biggest story today between Clapper & Yates is on surveillance. Why doesn’t the media report on this? #FakeNews!” Except the idea that the surveillance story is a bigger deal than Russia having compromising information about the national security adviser is nonsense.

Steve Munoz, a political appointee hired by the Trump administration for a significant State Department role was accused of multiple sexual assaults as a student several years ago at The Citadel military college. Five male freshmen alleged that Munoz used his positions as an upperclassman, class president and head of the campus Republican Society to grope them. So he fits in well with Trump’s crowd.

Ivanka Trump was reportedly reduced to tears by her father after he refused to issue a full apology for his comments about groping women. But according to the New York Times [one of the “fake news” outlets – so Papa will not accept it!], Ivanka repeatedly attempted to convince him to offer a full apology for the comment, but he had only agreed to say sorry for any offence he caused.

Another court loss for Trump: A US federal court has declined to rehear a case in which telecommunications companies seek to overturn net neutrality rules established during the Obama administration by the FCC.

If Trump were an officer in the Air Force, with any connection to nuclear weapons, he would need to pass the Personnel Reliability Program, which includes thirty-seven questions about financial history, emotional volatility, and physical health. (Question No. 28: Do you often lose your temper?) “There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump would never pass muster,” said a researcher.

Ivanka Trump, at a Berlin conference on women called W20 Summit, drew scattered groans and hisses for describing Trump as “a tremendous champion of supporting families.” “Some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empoweree for women,” said the moderator of the summit. Ivanka responded saying the media continues to bring that up. Then she said “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.” Of course, if you are a daughter of a billionaire, there are few barriers.