Is there something wrong with Trump?

[Well aside from the usual.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Clash of the titans

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Senate lawmakers that the US intelligence community does not believe Iran is currently undertaking “key activities” needed to produce a nuclear bomb — an assessment at odds with longtime administration claims that Iran is an immediate nuclear threat.

Donald Trump, in a remarkable rebuke that was reminiscent of his past criticisms of law enforcement officials, said the intelligence chiefs were “extremely passive and naive” on the matter.

Trump claimed that his intelligence chiefs, including Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel, told him that “they said they were totally misquoted and totally taken out of context.” Their testimony was televised, and their written assessment of global threats was made public. Two people misquoted? Must be a first.

Trump tweeted “When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back.”

Aside from another punctuation error [“there” instead of “their”], Trump admits that things are getting worse since he killed the nuclear deal [“they are testing Rockets….”].

Scratching your head time. Trump declared that “ISIS was out of control in Syria” when he took over but later then said that when his term began, ISIS was already on the decline, with the US declaring 75% of ISIS fighters killed by December 2016.

Trump said he was “very disappointed” to see the FBI’s arrest of his long-time associate Roger Stone “go down that way,” About a dozen officers with tactical vests and heavy weapons fanned out across the lawn. Law enforcement shined a flashlight into Stone’s front door, and one officer rapped against it, shouting “FBI. Open the door.” The agent shouted seconds later: “FBI. Warrant.” Are they supposed to wait until he wakes up and has breakfast? Trump inflated saying there were 29 people in armored vehicles.

[A former senior FBI agent said that federal arrests typically occur at 6 am. This is the usual course of action is designed to rouse groggy suspects who are less prepared to resist arrest. It is typical to have 10 agents at a scene of an arrest for every individual that would be arrested. As they were gathering evidence and the importance of the individual, additional personnel were needed such as a crisis negotiator, log keeper, public affairs and evidence photographer.]

Trump blamed the Russians for the demise of the Cold War-era pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. He claims the Russians have been developing missiles that are against the agreement. But some European are not convinced. Yet, it is the US that has halted the treaty. Some analysts worry its demise could fuel a new arms race. In addition, China [not part of the pact] are allowed to build the missiles.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing an amendment to a Middle East policy bill that would acknowledge “al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to us here at home,” a move seen as a sharp rebuke to Trump’s push to withdraw US troops from Syria.

It’s been over 40 days since Trump originally ordered a rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria on December 19 within 30 days. He later extended it to 4 months.

Are you sitting down? According to White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders: “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there.”

She also said “Look, the President’s made clear that we support Christians, that we support the Kurds,” Sanders said, adding Trump has “made that clear to Turkey.” If you are another faith, you’re screwed.

Remember how Trump boasted that Taiwan manufacturer Foxconn would build a huge plant in Michigan including flat screens with at least 3,000 jobs and up to 13,000? Definitely not 13,000 as Foxconn as they won’t build the flat screens there. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker lost his re-election in November because the state and local governments gave Foxconn $4 billion in tax help. Foxconn said the US plant “can’t compete” with lower-cost flat panel plants elsewhere in the world.

But Foxconn says it is returning to its original plan to make flat screen panels at a new plant in Wisconsin following a whiny appeal from Trump. Foxconn will probably have to either raise prices for them or a lower profit from them. A company spokesperson said she was not aware of any additional incentives or inducements that were offered to the company in the conversation with Trump. Uh huh.

Trump blamed former House Speaker Paul Ryan for not getting funding for the wall, saying that Ryan assured him congressional Republicans would get the money when the Trump agreed not to veto the omnibus spending bill last year.

A list of treaties and agreements that Trump has pulled the US out of in the last 25 months:

  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
  • Paris Agreement [climate pact]
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership [Pacific free trade]
  • South Korean trade deal [renegotiated]
  • NAFTA [North American free trade] [renegotiated but not ratified]
  • UN Human Right Council
  • UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Iran nuclear deal

In addition, Trump has questioned or threatened to pull out of:

  • NATO
  • World Trade Organization

Electrolux is shutting down its Memphis plant which builds Frigidaire and Electrolux ovens partially because of the Sears bankruptcy and partially because of high steel prices from Trump’s tariffs. There goes 530 jobs. Trump said [at the time of the tariff slapping] the tariffs was meant to boost domestic production of the materials.

An undocumented Guatemalan worker fired from Trump’s Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, will be in attendance at Trump’s State of the Union address next week after being invited by a Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. The woman claimed that managers helped her obtain fake documents for employment.

Ummm. Trump tweeted “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” Moron. “Waming”? Related to Covfefe? “…the coldest ever recorded.” And he’s a meteorologist expert. Let’s not forgetting the difference between global waming [errr… warming] and climate change.

Trump at the NATO meeting – recipe for disaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will there ever be a quiet week in this administration?

Where have you heard this before? Just create a template and fill in the blanks.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who probably shouldn’t have had the job in the first place, is rumored to be the next on the way out. This even after Donald Trump said “Keep your head up. Keep fighting. We got your back.”

The White House is “looking into” Pruitt’s housing situation amid reports that he rented a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist. Meanwhile, a Democratic senator has said that Pruitt’s 24-hour security in Washington allegedly extends to at least some of his personal trips, including one family trips to Disneyland and another to the Rose Bowl Game.

As if Pruitt has enough problems, he bypassed the White House to give large pay raises to two aides [combined over $80,000], then conceding the raises “should not have happened,” while denying that he was aware the raises were given out in the first place. But The Atlantic reported that Pruitt requested pay raises for “two of his closest aides,” in March.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told special counsel Robert Mueller in a classified August 2, 2017, memo that he should investigate allegations that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “colluding with Russian government officials” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors in the Russia probe revealed.

Mueller was also empowered by Rosenstein to investigate Paul Manafort’s payments from Ukrainian politicians, a cornerstone of the Trump adviser’s decades-long lobbying career that has resulted in several financial criminal charges so far.

Wondering if Rosenstein could get into hot water as Manafort could give up those above him in exchange for a lesser sentence – which could cause Trump further problems.

The Trump administration is unleashing additional sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs with ties to President Vladimir Putin along with 12 companies they own or control. The measures announced by the Treasury Department were also aimed at 17 senior Russian government officials and the state-owned Russian weapons trading company, Rosoboronexport, which has long-standing ties to Syria and its subsidiary, Russian Financial Corporation Bank. One sanctioned is Vladimir Poutine’s son-in-law.

China responded to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs [$50 billion] with $3 billion of tariffs of its own. Beijing has yet to retaliate to Trump’s promised crackdown on Chinese intellectual property theft. Trump may still add further tariffs. Combined with Trump’s obsession of going after Amazon [with more untruthful tweets], stock market took a tumble on Monday.

China is punching back in the escalating trade dispute with the US, announcing plans for heavy new tariffs on dozens more US goods including aircraft and autos. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of US exports. The 106 affected products will also include soybeans and chemicals.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s listed of about 1,300 Chinese exports — also worth about $50 billion annually — that it intends to target with 25% tariffs.

Now Trump said he could add a further $100 billion in tariffs against China if he decides to.

Meanwhile, those in rural America are getting nervous because the latest tariffs from China will affect them primarily. For example, most of the soy comes from rural states – the same states that gave Trump the presidency. With the mid-term elections in 7 months, Trump could lose some of the rural vote if the tariffs don’t disappear. China is obviously targeting Republican voters. [Will Trump whine – if he loses badly in the mid-term – that China meddled in their election?]

In good trade news, they are making progress in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

When Trump complains that the government is getting a bad deal with Amazon’s shipping, he shouldn’t be blaming Amazon but instead the US Postal Service. In the end they are agreeing to the shipping rates. If anything Trump should commend Amazon for doing a good deal – although I don’t they used his book as a reference.

One of Amazon’s biggest customers is the federal government. Amazon, through its massive Amazon Web Services cloud computing division, has a deal with the government to provide cloud services to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. That deal was first awarded in 2013 and Amazon was said to have beat out IBM for the business. It’s a massive contract, worth a reported $600 million over 10 years.

Trump complained at length about the amount of American money being spent in Syria, which he said had produced nothing for the US in return. Trump grew irritated with his top military brass and national security team when they advised him an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Syria would be unwise. Even CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who Trump has tapped to serve as secretary of state, has told him that an immediate withdrawal from Syria would be a mistake.

Trump wants to use money set aside for the military to be used to build his Trump Wall. But he can’t as the money was specifically set to be used by the military [for security, etc.]. Trump claims that the Trump Wall is about security. Congress would have to agree to the change.

In the meantime, Trump wants to send the military to guard the border with Mexico until his trump Wall is built. The way things are going, it could be there for a while. Trump claim that this has never done before. George W. Bush used the National Guard in 2006. Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the US, unless specifically authorized by Congress. Does he know any of this?

With between 2000 and 4000 National Guard troops expected to defend the southern US border, politicians are starting to wonder who will pay for the deployment and whether they will be armed. Like true Trump fashion, he announces something with little details and the White House staff have to scramble to figure things out. Though numbers have rebounded to be more consistent with the past few years, the number of crossings in fiscal year 2017 were at a nearly five-decade low.

Trump administration officials said they’re crafting a new legislative package aimed at closing immigration “loopholes,” hours after Trump called on Republicans in Congress to immediately pass a border bill using the “Nuclear Option if necessary” [changing the Senate rules to require a simple majority of 51 votes to override a rule instead of 60] to muscle it through. Trump’s favoured DACA solution mustered only 39 votes in the Senate, meaning it couldn’t have passed even if the Senate did approve the changes.

Trump tweeted “Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!” Wouldn’t that be “inactions” and “unacceptable 46 year high”?

In 2000, 1.6 million were apprehended in trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US. In 2017, it was just 310,000. So much for Trump claiming the numbers crossing are increasing. He should give himself pat on the back for the lower amount.

Trumps announcement of putting the national guard at the border caught everyone in his administration off guard and are scrambling to respond to what he said – with the little information they got.

Trump also declared protections for so-called Dreamer immigrants “dead,” claimed the U.S. has “no effective border laws” and Trump continued to blame Democrats for killing the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program despite the fact that he was the one who moved to end the program. He also claimed DACA, which has provided temporary protection from deportation and work permits to hundreds of thousands of young people, is luring people to cross the border illegally, even though the program have never been open to new arrivals.

Trump appeared to assert that women from Central America are raped at “levels that nobody has ever seen before” as an argument for strengthening US immigration laws. It is unclear where Trump derived the evidence for his seeming assertion that Central American women are being raped at unprecedented levels. More like another bit of “facts” that he created.

Trump warned Mexico to halt the passage of “caravans” of illegal immigrants or risk retribution. Individuals in the caravans often try to reach the US border but usually not as part of the caravan. The caravans typically don’t proceed much farther north than the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!” Trump tweeted. The so-called caravan is 1000 people [mostly Hondurans].

Trump appeared to claim credit for halting the caravan of about 1,100 migrants, many from Honduras, who had been marching along roadsides and train tracks in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. But the caravan of largely Central American migrants had never intended to reach the U.S. border. It was meant to end at a migrants’ rights symposium in central Mexico later this week.

Trump claims those in the caravan want to enter the US as part of DACA. But DACA is for those already in the US and were born there from parents who weren’t. It is an annual protest against Central America human rights abuses.

Trump also threatened to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t reduce the flow of immigrants coming across the southern US border.

In your typical Trump fashion, during the annual Easter egg hunt on the White House grounds with small children, Trump decided to discuss politics including the trade war with China. In his speech in front of children, he says the economy is doing well – but the markets dropped quite a bit on the same day. [He goofed also in the past claiming the economy is doing well but the markets were sliding.]

Trump, a constant critic of what he calls “fake news,” will skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for a second year in a row. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will attend to represent the administration at the head table.

In another bad sign for Republicans in November, a Democrat leaning candidate [had no party affiliation] won a 10-year seat on the Wisconsin’s Supreme Court – a state held with a Republican governor and a state won by Trump in the 2016 elections. In fact the winner won by double digits. It was the first time a liberal candidate who wasn’t an incumbent had won a seat on the seven-member court in 23 years.

Todd Johnson, political appointee, is a former Trump campaign state director in New Mexico who joined the Department of Defense in 2017 as an advance officer, a Pentagon employee with the sensitive task of providing logistical support related to the secretary’s events and appearances domestically and abroad. Johnson resigned after it was revealed on social media that he posted birther conspiracies about then-President Barack Obama and shared a video that claimed Obama was the Antichrist.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has already filed 29 separate lawsuits against the Trump Administration — and that doesn’t even include his defense of the state in the Justice Department’s litigation against the California law limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Becerra’s list includes five lawsuits related to immigration, three on health care, three on education and 15 on the environment and climate.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the US, is forcing its news anchors to record a promo about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. Sinclair is pro Trump and has many Fox stations but also ABC and others. Two-thirds are in Trump “country”.

According to a former Sinclair News Director, Sinclair has locked down the company where they have threaten anyone in the company who speaks publically about it. Sinclair enforces clauses if someone tries to leave before their contract is up.

Trump asked a federal judge to order private arbitration in a case brought by a porn actress who claimed she had an affair with him. Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, filed papers in federal court in Los Angeles asking a judge to rule that Stormy Daniels’ case involving a non-disclosure agreement must be heard by an arbitrator instead of a jury. Looks like Trump may want to keep the issue out of the media.

Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway responds to allegations in a new book by author Ronald Kessler that she is the “number one leaker” in the White House by saying that [obviously] the allegations are false.

A photo released of the White House interns show that almost all of the interns are white – lack of diversity. Well, it’s about the same for Trump’s cabinet. Anyone surprised? Is it accidental or intentional that the young man and woman of color are posed at the group’s edges and are the only 2 of 91 who are not white. Washington, DC has a large population of color. The Democrats showed off their intern picture. Plenty of diversity.

Flynn pleads guilty, Trump feeling the heat

Donald Trump’s tweet about firing former national security adviser Michael Flynn is garnering a lot of attention from critics — with some calling it a possible admission of obstruction of justice.

“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI,” Trump wrote. “He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” The tweet immediately caught the attention of critics, who questioned whether Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when the President asked then-FBI Director James Comey to let the investigation into Flynn go.

Then-transition adviser KT McFarland, who later became deputy national security adviser under Michael Flynn, who was on President Donald Trump’s transition team wrote in a December 29 email that Russia “has just thrown the USA election to him,” according to a report. A White House lawyer said that McFarland meant only that Democrats were painting Russia’s role in the election that way. Uh huh. Sure.

Jared Kushner is the “very senior member” of Trump’s transition team who directed incoming Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador to the United States and other countries about a UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements in 2016.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador and disclosed that he is cooperating with the special counsel’s office. Flynn is the first person inside Trump’s administration to be reached by special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Trump tweets “After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.” Wasn’t Trump buddy buddy with Comey? Why did he keep Comey on as head of the FBI when he started his term?

Lobbying regarding the UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements was a well-known and a collaborative effort by various transition officials including Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Flynn and Kushner. None of them “ordered” or “directed” the others and all were working towards the same goal of standing by Israel, one of the country’s greatest allies, as the President’s very public comments at the time made clear.

At this time Trump has yet to tweet [or comment] on Flynn or Kushner, but a White House official said only nice things about Flynn including that Trump is thinking of his family. [Knowing Trump’s history, he said no such thing.]

Seen in the open, you could hear some people yell say Flynn “Lock him up”. This after Flynn said the same thing about Hillary Clinton a year earlier.

Some are wondering if Trump may now decide to finally muzzle Mueller before the bleeding of the Trump administration really begins.

Special counsel Robert Mueller removed one of the FBI’s top Russian counterintelligence experts from his team of investigators after an internal investigation found messages he sent that could be interpreted as showing political bias for Hillary Clinton and against Trump.

Trump responded by tweeting “ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE Now it all starts to make sense!” Oh yes. A sole agent actually led the probe and not Mueller?

The Senate Republicans’ tax bill hangs in the balance, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that GOP leaders grapple with how they can satisfy the conference’s deficit hawks. The Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional scorekeeper for tax bills, estimates that the Senate tax bill could generate enough growth to create nearly $408 billion in net new revenue over a decade. But even with that additional revenue, the bill would still add an estimated $1 trillion to deficits.

Trump tweets “Republicans Senators are working hard to pass the biggest Tax Cuts in the history of our Country. The Bill is getting better and better. This is a once in a generation chance. Obstructionist Dems trying to block because they think it is too good and will not be given the credit!” Biggest tax cuts which will add to the country’s debt. When you can’t get politicians in your own party to agree, then you have a problem.

Some Democrats complained that before the Senate vote, they were given roughly an hour to read the 500 page bill. Speed reading?

Reports that the White House has a tentative plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that emerged were an effort to express Trump’s deep displeasure and publicly shame his secretary of state. The news that the White House is seriously considering replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo comes as Trump remains deeply frustrated with his secretary of state.

Tensions have been high between Trump and Tillerson for months now, and they were exacerbated after it was reported that Tillerson privately referred to the President as a moron over the summer. Trump, of course, has denied this.

After Trump retweeted anti-Muslims videos, multiple State Department officials said the department communicated to the White House that there was concern that protests could happen at US embassies. Trump retweeted three videos sent from far-right British activist Jayda Fransen that claimed to depict Muslims assaulting people and desecrating a statue of the Virgin Mary.

As if Trump doesn’t have enough issues on his plate, Trump is expected to announce very soon that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This will definitely anger Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere who are already fuming because of those retweets.

Trump is expected to make the announcement as he signs a waiver to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv for another six months but says his administration will move the diplomatic mission to Jerusalem at some point — a goal long sought by Israel. He may by specify only West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as opposed to the eastern part of the city, which Palestinians want to claim as their own seat of government.

[The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requires the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem or face the financial penalty of losing half the State Department’s appropriated funding for the acquisition and maintenance of buildings abroad. Every six months, however, presidents can sign a waiver to avoid these penalties on national security grounds.]

In more lies, Trump said at a speech in St. Charles, Missouri “The rich people actually don’t like me.” Unsure where he gets that from. His tax plan [corporate, estate, AMT] will save the rich millions.

Trump tweeted “Many people in our Country are asking what the “Justice” Department is going to do about the fact that totally Crooked Hillary, AFTER receiving a subpoena from the United States Congress, deleted and “acid washed” 33,000 Emails? No justice!” Aren’t you going to blame Jeff Sessions? Why don’t you fire him if he isn’t doing his job.

Trump tweeted “The jury was not told the killer of Kate [Steinle] was a 7 time felon. The Schumer/Pelosi Democrats are so weak on Crime that they will pay a big price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections.” Meanwhile where is his wall? How many miles have been built? Who was it that said the wall would be built in his first year?

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Steinle “would still be alive if we had a wall,” referring to Trump’s call for the construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico. She was killed in 2015. No real wall then. No real wall now. Federal immigration officials said they tried to deport the killer but failed. And yet Trump blamed the Democrats?

[As I reminder, unless it is part of a tweet or conversation, my policy is never to put Trump’s actual title in front of his name. He doesn’t deserve it.]

 

Of Russia, Panama and Moore

Well after a fairly quiet week as he was in Asia, Trump was back in full force.

Sen. John McCain slammed Donald Trump for saying he believes Russian President Vladimir Poutine over senior US intelligence officials when he says his country didn’t interfere in the 2016 election. “There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community,” said McCain.

“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added. Do Americans care that Poutine is?

A new report shows that for 10 years, a Trump property in Panama City collected millions of dollars from the Russian mafia and Colombian drug cartels. An investigation from Global Witness, an international NGO that probes corruption and money laundering, reveals how the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower turned a blind eye to crime lords looking for a safe haven to stash their blood money.

The property, with lead broker Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, listed units for three times the going rate in Panama City, thanks to the Trump name. Nogueira worked closely with the Trump family; he claims he attended at least 10 meetings with Ivanka Trump, who challenged him to sell 100 units in the building.

Nogueira later fled Panama after he was arrested for unrelated charges of real estate fraud. From his European asylum, he told NBC that at least half of his Trump Ocean Club customers were Russians, including some with “questionable backgrounds.” Only later did he learn of their ties to Russian organized crime circles.

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore reiterated his denials against what he said were allegations of sexual misconduct, adding that “revelations” regarding the charges will surface over the coming days. Will he follow Trump’s lead by not actually announcing those “revelations”? He added that the alleged incidents happened nearly 40 years ago. Does that make a difference?

A former co-worker of Moore says it was ‘common knowledge’ that Moore dated high school girls.

Counselor to Trump, Kellyanne Conway, says that actions allegedly committed by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore “should disqualify anyone”.

“I’ve been investigated more than anyone in this country,” claims Moore. Very Trump sounding. He is complaining that it is the Democrats who are after him and yet even Republicans [other than the hard conservatives] are against him now.

Keurig pulled its advertising from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show after his interview with Moore. In protest, some Twitter users posted videos of themselves destroying their Keurig coffee makers. Critics of the interview said Hannity went too easy on Moore. By Saturday, other companies including 23andMe and E-Trade all announced they would also pull their ads.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called allegations leveled against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore about pursuing relationships with teenage girls and committing sexual assault “credible” and that he should step aside.

The Republican National Committee has withdrawn from a joint fundraising agreement with Moore, according to a Federal Election Commission filing, as the GOP establishment continues to break ties with the Alabama Senate candidate.

A man who worked at the local mall in Moore’s hometown of Gadsden says Moore was on a mall watch list because he was “bothering girls in the mall.”

While Trump has stayed quiet on the Moore matter, Conway addressed the situation briefly on Fox and Friends by saying “The president will make a statement when he wants to make a statement.” Which is code word/phrase for never.

Moore allies will wonder if Trump dumped him because of the allegations. It’s not the first time he turned his back on fellow Republicans. The state’s party are still supporting him. Fearing a lawsuit and backlash, they are keeping him on the ballot. The governor’s office and entire state Legislature will be up for grabs in a year.

Moore’s attorney is trying to cast doubt at one of Moore’s accusers claiming a signature is fake in a high school yearbook. But what about the other 5 [so far]. Gloria Allred, the accuser’s attorney, later said her client would allow the yearbook to be examined only if Moore is questioned under oath by a Senate committee. So far, Moore’s side hasn’t agreed.

It’s too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot, so fielding a Republican write-in at this point would almost certainly hand the election to the Democrats unless he should withdraw and persuade his supporters to vote for that substitute.

Trump, who has stayed quiet on the allegations of sexual abuse against Moore, blasted Democratic Sen. Al Franken after a woman said he groped and kissed her without her consent. The accuser accepted Franken’s apology. Franken said he would welcome an ethics probe into his conduct.

Back in October 2016, Trump said all the accusations against him from the 12 accusers were false and he would take them all to court after the election. Guess how many he took to court 13 months later? None.

A group of Alabama women in Montgomery were backing Moore saying the [at least] six accuses are liars and are in just for the money and fame. You don’t get fame for accusing someone and none asked for money or launched a lawsuit.

Trump’s repeated public comments attacking the Justice Department have not influenced the department or ongoing investigations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said during a contentious House judiciary committee hearing. “To announce recusal from any investigation would confirm the existence of that investigation, and top officials have advised me I should not do so,” Sessions said.

Sessions said although his Justice Department will consider investigations into Hillary Clinton, he could not say whether he would recuse himself from the matter, contradicting his previous statements on the matter. News broke that Sessions has asked senior federal prosecutors to “evaluate certain issues” presented by House Republicans, including alleged ties between the Clinton Foundation and the sale of Uranium One.

Senate judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein sent a letter requesting more information on Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner related to his security clearance and questions over whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

The two senators specifically requested “transcripts from other committee interviews, additional documents from previous requests, communications with (former national security adviser) Michael Flynn and documents related to his security clearance,” according to their statement.

Kushner told congressional Russia investigators that he did not communicate with WikiLeaks and did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign who had. But Kushner did receive and forward an email from Donald Trump Jr. about contact Trump Jr. had with WikiLeaks, according to a new report this week and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “briefly” discussed human rights and the Philippine’s bloody war on drugs during their closed-door conversation, the White House said. But a spokesman for the Philippine President told reporters that “human rights did not arise” during the meeting.

While Trump did nothing about the human rights abuses in the Philippines with Duterte, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly raised human-rights concerns with Duterte — including extrajudicial killings carried out by security forces in his country — in a confrontation that the Philippine president later derided as a “personal and official insult.” Duterte also seemed to have a different recollection regarding the conversation. Who would you believe…. [Trudeau was the only leader to talk with Duterte about the issue.]

Before the vote, House GOP thinks it has the votes for tax overhaul. You would figure with an easy majority this would be a no brainer in any normal presidency.

The House of Representatives passed major tax reform legislation along party lines, advancing a key agenda item for President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. The vote was 227-205, with no Democrats backing the bill. But expect an uphill battle in the Senate.

Senate Republicans plan to include a repeal of the individual mandate — a key piece of the Affordable Care Act — in their tax reform efforts. The mandate requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. But getting rid of it has a cost.

Roughly 4 million fewer people would be covered in the first year the repeal would take effect, the Congressional Budget Office said last week, rising to 13 million by 2027, as compared to current law. Premiums would also rise by about 10% in most years of the decade, “Republicans just can’t help themselves,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “They’re so determined to provide tax giveaways to the rich that they’re willing to raise premiums on millions of middle-class Americans and kick 13 million people off their health care.”

Already the America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and the Federation of American Hospitals are against the plan.

The House leadership is now pressing those same suburban representatives [that did badly in last week’s elections] to back a tax reform bill that independent analysts say will raise taxes on many of their constituents, particularly in Democratic-leaning states and around the major metropolitan areas with the highest real estate values.

Already GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has come out against the current version of the bill. If two more GOP senators go against the bill [assuming all Democrats vote against the bill and that’s very likely], this bill will be dead in the water.

In the Senate tax plan, senate Republicans are proposing significant excise tax reductions for wine, liquor and beer — including one that slashes in half the rate for craft brewers. But the party could be short lived. Even if it passes, the proposed tax reductions are set to expire after two years. Coincidently the first day is New Year’s Eve 2017 and the last day is Year’s Eve 2019 [so it goes through 3 “Eves”].

House Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against Trump, though they acknowledged their efforts have no chance of success while Republicans control both houses of Congress. Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen introduced five articles of impeachment that include obstruction of justice for Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, two emoluments clause violations, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary and undermining the freedom of the press.

Sanders responded in a statement, saying time spent calling for Trump’s impeachment “would be better spent focusing on tax relief for American families and businesses. It’s disappointing that extremists in Congress still refuse to accept the President’s decisive victory in last year’s election.” Seems only the Republicans think that the Democrats are disgruntled because they lost the election.

The Trump administration is lifting a federal ban imposed by the Obama administration on the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a written notice saying that allowing elephants in Zimbabwe to be killed will enhance the survival of the threatened species by raising money for conservation programs from the wealthy trophy hunters who pay to shoot them.

In probably a rarity this year, Republican and Democratic senators have joined forces on legislation to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church. The bill would ensure that federal agencies, such as the Defense Department, and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. The bill faces an uncertain future in the GOP-run House.

North Korea has reacted angrily to Trump’s recent comments [“fat and short”] about Kim Jong-un, saying, “the worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership. He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people.”

With just 46% approval by Rasmussen’s polling, Trump says of Rasmussen that it was “one of the most accurate polls last time around.” Rasmussen survey only likely voters – not all voters. Rasmussen tends to be give trump 10% more approval percentage over other polls. Even then, most Presidents wouldn’t be excited if under 50%. With Trump, he’ll take anything.

Then Trump’s tweet adds a very Trumpian comment: “Some people think numbers could be in the 50’s.” “Some people” or “many people” is Trump’s traditional way of saying “nobody, but wouldn’t it be nice if.”

Trump tweeted “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” The three players are accused of shoplifting during a trip to China to play a game. Trump told the media that he spoke directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the case and were supposedly released right after. Demanding to be praised by three teenagers for what you did for them isn’t exactly presidential. [Do convicted shoplifters in China actually get 10 years?]

Trump has selected former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as his newest pick to lead the department of Health and Human Services. Trump tweeted while overseas of his intentions to tap Azar, writing that Azar “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!” There’s another billionaire added to the cabinet.

With Trump threatening to tear up the NAFTA agreement, possibly preferring bilateral agreements, at the Asia-Pacific summit, the remaining countries in the currently failed Trans-Pacific Partnership [the US dropped out] are working on reviving it without Trump and the US. As Mexico is part of TPP, should Trump scrap NATFA, Canada and Mexico would still have agreements, leaving the US out.

400 wealthy Americans, which include doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and CEOs signed a letter, say the GOP is making a mistake by reducing taxes on the richest families at a time when the nation’s debt is high and inequality is back at the worst level since the 1920s and are urging Republican lawmakers not to cut their taxes. The legislation which would add $1.5 trillion to the debt to pay for widespread tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

“I don’t believe that we’ve set out to create a tax cut for the wealthy,” Gary Cohn, the head of Trump’s National Economic Council, said in an interview last week. “Everything in our tax system is meant to encourage investment.” At the moment only 5,000 families a year end up paying the estate tax. Under the Senate plan, that would drop to just 1,800 families.

The letter specifically criticizes Congress for attempting to repeal the estate tax, which is only paid on assets worth over $5.49 million ($11 million for couples) that are left to heirs. The House bill would eliminate the estate tax entirely. The Senate plan would double the threshold so people could inherit up to $11 million for individuals ($22 million for couples) tax free.

Even when Trump is on a trip, still plenty of Trump issues

In elections, Democrats took both Virginia [almost a slaughter – 20 point difference compared to 5 points in 2013 in some areas] and New Jersey [the latter was once Republican]. Democrats also won the lieutenant governor in Virginia and won all major contests including close mayoral races.

Trump tweeted “@EdWGillespie will totally turn around the high crime and poor economic performance of VA. MS-13 and crime will be gone.” Problem is that Gillespie has ignored using Trump’s support in his campaign. Almost never mentioning him. Gillespie himself had made comments that could rival Trump.

But after Virginia’s Ed Gillespie lost, Donald Trump tweeted “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for….” And yet, Trump tweeted many times to support him. Now he throws him under the bus since he thinks he’s not part of the blame.

A trove of leaked documents made public purport to show financial ties between Russia and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, a member of President Trump’s cabinet. They also reportedly show how state-run Russian companies funded large investments in Twitter and Facebook.

Ross has retained a multimillion-dollar stake in Navigator, a shipping company whose top customers include the Russian energy firm Sibur. Sibur’s owners include a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s family and a Russian oligarch which also says the firm itself was created by the Russian government.

Much of Ross’s wealth, which is estimated to total around $2 billion, is supposedly tied up in secretive offshore investments.

The New York Times reported that two state-run Russian companies secretly and indirectly poured millions of dollars into Twitter and Facebook. Both of the transactions allegedly involved Yuri Milner, a Russian tech mogul who has business ties to Trump’s son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner.

The newspaper said the Russian oil and gas company Gazprom lent money to another firm that invested in Milner’s multimillion-dollar Facebook deal and Russian-owned VTB Bank invested in Twitter.

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page told the House intelligence committee last week that he floated the idea of then-candidate Donald Trump taking a trip to Russia in May 2016, according to transcript of his interview. Page appeared recently  before the House intelligence committee under an unusual arrangement that he requested where the interview was conducted in the committee’s secure spaces, but the transcript was made available publicly. [I’ve seen Page interviewed on TV and he is a bit out there.]

Firing Mueller would be too much, a stepping beyond the bounds by Trump for Speaker Paul Ryan. If Trump did take that course of action, Ryan — and presumably the Republicans loyal to him in Congress — would have no choice but to disavow Trump for good. Of course Ryan has “drawn” previous lines in the sand only for Trump to go over them and Ryan did nothing.

Trump says the mass shooting at a Texas church “isn’t a guns situation,” but is a “mental health problem at the highest level.” And then “This was a very, based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time.” The gunman was discharged from the Air Force several years ago for allegedly assaulting his spouse and a child. There is nothing mentioned yet about long term issues the gunman had.

Not surprised, while the US flag is lowered in Texas and elsewhere, the NRAS flag is still at full mast.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially said “nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase” under the Senate bill that was unveiled but then backtracked the day after.

Remember when Trump’s candidate for the Alabama primary lost to the candidate, Roy Moore, who was backed by Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon. Well, Bannon came out swinging defending Moore when 4 women accused Moore of sexual harassment including one who was 14 years old at the time. Moore, of course, denied the accusations. “The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal — even inflict physical harm — if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me,” he said and also blaming the “lapdog” Democrats and left wing media.

Former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn and his son are alleged to have been offered as much as $15 million to forcibly remove from the US a Muslim cleric wanted by Turkey. The FBI questioned at least four people in regards to a mid-December meeting in New York at the “21” Club. Discussions between Flynn and Turkish representatives supposedly took place there.

Already, at least 25 Republicans have announced they are retiring [12], running for another office [10] or resigning outright [3]. Many of those are in areas where the GOP barely won in 2016. There are 2 Democrats retiring and 8 running elsewhere for office. For both parties, most of those running for another office is for governors.

Ross got hit with some issues. It seems a dream of his was to be on Forbes top 400 Americans in worth. The poorest on the list is around $2 billion. He claimed that he has $2.7 billion of which $2 billion was put in a trust and given to his immediate family when he joined Trump’s cabinet. Problem is by doing that there are taxes to be paid [which it seems he hasn’t paid]. In addition, between various filings and reporting, his fortune has also change drastically from one amount to another.

“It was great victory, and a victory that made a lot of people very happy,” Trump said in Seoul, South Korea, his second stop on a five-country visit to Asia. He also still comments about Hillary Clinton. This 10 months after his election win. I guess he has really little else he can boast.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump’s focus is on the fact that “the stock market has hit record highs, unemployment has hit a 17-year low, and (the Islamic State) is on the run.” Employment can also drop when some people stop looking. ISIL may be on the run, but they are still around. Look at the Taliban – they left but more like went under cover for a while and then came back.

Trump finally appears to have stopped handing out colored copies of the Electoral College map, something he did on occasion during his first few months in office.

He also tweeted “Republicans won 4 out of 4 house seats.” Yes. Those are previous special elections for people who left the House to take positions in his administration. So they were expected to win undisputable Republican seats. And there were 5 with Utah as the latest.

“Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask? That’s not rude. Is that rude? I don’t think so,” Trump told executives from local automakers during a trip to Japan. Ummm. They already do make cars in the US. Three out of four Japanese cars sold in the U.S. last year were built in North America.

A Syrian official says the war-ravaged country plans to sign the Paris climate accord. Until now, it had been the only United Nations member state not to have done so. It means the United States would be the sole UN member country outside the deal if Trump makes good on his threat to pull out. Of course this may just be a token signing for a country with a dictator and an internal conflict. [I’m talking about Syria – not the US.]

Princeton University recently announced that it has joined forces with Microsoft to file a federal lawsuit to preserve DACA. This is all following the Trump administration’s September 2017 decision to roll back the government program protecting undocumented immigrants. In the new lawsuit, Princeton and Microsoft allege that DACA’s termination violated both the United States Constitution and federal law.

Police in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad are doing a last-minute sweep to get beggars off the streets ahead of Ivanka Trump’s visit later this month. The unprecedented order was given by the city’s police commissioner earlier this week and will last for two months.

Trump tweeted “Stock market hit yet another all-time record high yesterday. There is great confidence in the moves that my Administration….” What has he done and if so great, why have 7,000 stores closed so far this year [breaking the previous yearly record in 2008]? If the economy is doing so well, why does Trump want to give big companies tax breaks?

According to news reports, nearly 200 web domains at the Trump Organization were compromised in 2013. The compromised addresses redirected visitors to malicious servers in Russia. The Trump organization said the domains were not compromised despite Internet records that say otherwise. The Trump Organization and its affiliates own at least 3,300 in all.

Another slight reduction in the unemployment rate but the biggest chunk of new jobs came from places like restaurants and bars where the wages tend to be lower and not all are full time employment. In addition, the wage growth is about 0.4% less than it was the same time last year. Trump will still take claim saying the stock market has still gone up well. I’m guess if unemployment rate went up but so did the stock market, he would still say the economy is doing well.

Generally, when the economy is doing well, the president’s approval ratings go up – but not in this case.

The RNC is “seeing record fundraising and support of Trump and his agenda,” Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” morning. Uh huh. Scripted from Trump?

The Department of Justice’s antitrust chief gave AT&T a choice: to get your purchase of Time Warner done, either sell off CNN’s parent unit or DirecTV, or we’ll see you in court. The DOJ is demanding that AT&T divest all of Turner, the unit of Time Warner that includes CNN as well as TNT and TBS or definitely CNN. With that speculation that the Trump administration is trying to retaliate against CNN for its coverage of the president.

The Wall Street Journal report that the government is “actively considering” an antitrust lawsuit to block the impending acquisition. When asked whether Trump has had any involvement, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said “we’re not going to interfere with that here.”

Sam Clovis had withdrawn from consideration as Agriculture Department Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics. He may have had some type of relationship with George Papadopoulos.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the ban on transgender people from serving in the military until the case was resolved. That returns situation to status quo, pending the outcome of the case.

There are still a few of Trump’s nominees who have to go through Senate confirmation in order to take on their posts. One of those is Sam Clovis, the non-scientist who is rump’s pick for a USDA scientist job. Supposedly Clovis has some ties and communications with Papadopoulos.

Trump was instrumental in creating a fan group called 12th Man Thunder, which specifically undercut Jon Bon Jovi’s bid to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and “exploited already rampant speculation Bon Jovi planned to move the franchise to Canada.” The group gave fans signs that read “Bon Jovi Free Zone” and called for a broad boycott of Bon Jovi’s music.

Article II of the constitution includes a rather specific responsibility: a president “…shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But in late June, Trump hosted a group of Native American tribal leaders at the White House and urged them to “just do it” and extract whatever they want from the land they control. [I’m wondering if he is going to entrap them.]

It was the middle-finger salute seen around the world. Juli Briskman’s protest aimed at the presidential motorcade that roared past her while she was on her cycling path in Northern Virginia in October became an instantly viral photo. Akima LLC, a government contracting firm, fired her after she warned them that she was the one who did it. Briskman wasn’t wearing anything that connected her to the company when she was on her ride, nor is there anything on her personal social media accounts.

If you go to the company’s Facebook page and open some the posts by them, you’ll find plenty of protesting.

Trump tweeted, “The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military” after news that Bergdahl received a dishonorable discharge from the US Army but will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009.

About 60% of Puerto Rico, which is home to approximately 3.4 million US citizens, is still without power – approximately 50 days since the hurricane struck the island.

After Michael Moore finished a limited ruin show on Broadway, Trump starter a Twitter-storm by saying “While not at all presidential I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close. Sad!” I guess Trump doesn’t know that it is a limited run as Moore has a movie to work on right after the 12 week run. Moore also tweeted “It was the highest grossing play (non-musical) of the summer, despite my offering $29 cheap seats + free student tix so ALL could afford” and “You must have my smash hit of a Broadway show confused with your presidency — which IS a total bomb and WILL indeed close early. NOT SAD.”