Will he ever learn to think before speaking?

Seems he’ll never learn: Donald Trump said he would accept damaging information from Russia and China [or others] on his 2020 Democratic foe. “It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it.” He is now backtracking saying his words were taken out of context or didn’t say exactly that [but ABC has video], etc.

What Trump should do is refuse any information on any political foe – whether or not the individual is a foreign leader or a foreign spy. Some Republicans have also disliked this whole mess.

Mexico had already promised to take many of the actions agreed to in the immigration deal with the US — months before Trump’s tariff threat, officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations told the New York Times. So basically another fraud perpetrated by Trump. Trump moved to accept the existing agreements in a deal after negotiations prompted by his threat to impose growing tariffs on Mexico in response to the border situation dragged on over several days.

The Mexican government had pledged to deploy the National Guard nationwide with a focus on its southern border — a key part of the agreement — during secret meetings in March between former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican interior secretary Olga Sanchez in Miami. The deal’s key expansion of a program that would keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed was established in two heavily brokered two diplomatic notes exchanged between the two countries.

Trump argued on Twitter that his intervention and threat of tariffs had been instrumental in getting the promises down on paper. Trump also repeatedly threatened to close the border with Mexico earlier this year if it failed to halt migrant flows, before backing down amid domestic criticism.

Trump claimed that Mexico had agreed to more than what was revealed in the announcement, teasing that more would be announced soon. But he also claims that the Mexican government needs to vote on the agreement. He said while tariffs have been “indefinitely suspended”, tariffs will be reinstated if the agreement isn’t passed.

The additional unannounced part of the agreement could include the idea of Mexico becoming a “safe third country,” which would make it harder for asylum-seekers who pass through the country from other places to claim refuge in the US. Mexico has long opposed the safe country idea. The addition of 6000 Mexican national guard may not be much as they aren’t effective as the US national guard and probably filled with corruption.

Trump unveils four times what he says is the first page of his “secret” trade deal with Mexico on the White House lawn and claims that while he is in control of when it would go into effect, he will let Mexico decide when to announce the deal. Those with good cameras were able to zoom in on the page to actually see some of it.

Last year, Trump proclaimed a huge new trade deal with the European Union after backing off his threats to impose new automobile tariffs. In fact, the two sides agreed to talk about an agreement that is still yet to materialize. Trump has already said he will cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala accusing them of doing nothing to stop the migrant crisis. He has yet to do so.

“If President Obama made the deals that I have made, both at the Border and for the Economy, the Corrupt Media would be hailing them as Incredible, & a National Holiday would be immediately declared,” Trump said on Twitter. Because the “Corrupt Media” knows whatever deal Trump has made is almost always for show only and has little substance. Remember his “deal” with North Korea?

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “I think what the president is saying is, if we move forward on trade, that perhaps he’ll be willing to do certain things on Huawei if he gets comfort from China on that and certain guarantees,” Mnuchin said. Mnuchin’s words double down on the contradictory arguments made by Trump in May, after he put the Chinese 5G technology pioneer on the US’ blacklist.

Trump’s own top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, last month begrudgingly admitted that both sides [China and the US] are losing from the spiraling trade war, with American businesses and consumers among those who end up paying for it.

India has announced new tariffs on several US products that will go into effect on June 16, India’s finance ministry said. The goods targeted include American apples — which will be hit with a 70% tariff — as well as almonds, lentils and several chemical products. India first announced plans to impose new tariffs a year ago in retaliation for increased US import duties on Indian steel and aluminum.

The relationship between India and the US has soured in recent weeks after the Trump administration ended India’s participation in a preferential trade program earlier this month. The program exempted Indian goods worth more than $6 billion from US import duties in 2018.

The administration with Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist who led enslaved people to freedom via the Underground Railroad, was supposed to be on a redesigned $20 bill to replace Andrew Jackson, who was the populist, slave owner, a president and Trump’s favorite president, in 2020 so the bill can include modern security features.

Instead, the bill has been delayed until 2028 even though the engraving plate for it was completed “as recently as May 2018” a Treasury Department employee told the New York Times. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has indicated that there are technical difficulties. Uh huh. In 2016, candidate Trump told NBC that stripping his favorite president, the populist and slave owner, Andrew Jackson, from the $20 bill was “pure political correctness.” Maybe that’s the technical difficulty.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said that he prefers to always “follow the process” for approval when it comes to foreign arms sales, comments that appear to put him at odds with Trump’s decision to declare an emergency to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The House approved a resolution greenlighting the House Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce its subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn’s testimony and to seek grand jury information from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as well as authorized the House panel to take its subpoena of Attorney General William Barr to court, but an agreement struck between the Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department means the committee won’t take that action — at least for now.

Trump claimed he never said he wanted to fire Mueller. Instead McGhan lied to make himself a good lawyer and wanted Mueller gone. I guess McGhan got thrown under the bus and driven over a few times.

The Department of Justice informed the House Oversight Committee that Trump has asserted executive privilege over some materials related to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Those documents have been insufficient and are either publicly available documents, heavily redacted or just not responsive to the request at all and unrelated.

The Democratic-led committee will be considering a census contempt resolution that recommends that the House of Representatives find Barr and Ross in contempt of Congress “for refusal to comply with subpoenas.” The contempt resolution itself includes citations for both civil and criminal contempt. Census data serves as the basis for decisions about how to allocate federal resources and draw congressional districts.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders will leave her position at the end of the month. Trump said that that Sanders will return to her home state of Arkansas and floated the possibility of a gubernatorial run. But there won’t be an opening until 2023 [assuming the current governor resigns or whatever]. Seriously?

Trump claims that Iran was all over the place pushing their might before he was elected and then said that they aren’t anymore and are in “deep deep trouble”. Ya? You sure? They’re still helping one side in Yemen’s civil war. They are still Hezbollah’s benefactor. They are still around in Syria.

Kim Jong Nam, the slain half-brother of Kim Jong Un, was a Central Intelligence Agency source who met on several occasions with agency operatives. Trump denied Nam was a CIA asset.

The US Office of Special Counsel [unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation] is recommending that White House adviser Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal service, saying she violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions. Conway erred by making “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.” The recommendation carries no actual power to remove Conway.

“If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in her removal from her federal position,” Special counsel Henry Kerner said. “Never has (the office) had to issue multiple reports to the President concerning Hatch Act violations by the same individual.”

Trump makes the final decision. “No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she’s a terrific person,” Trump told his propaganda department, Fox News. “…it seems to me to be very unfair, it’s called freedom of speech.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she’s “done” with Trump. “I don’t even want to talk about him,” she said, adding, “My stock goes up every time he attacks me, so what can I say, but let’s not spend too much time on that because that’s his victory, the diverter-in-chief, the diverter-of-attention-in-chief.” Would this mean she won’t have meetings with him now?

Analysts believe Trump may hit a trade version of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. He can only threaten tariffs so many times before other countries relax knowing that Trump will offer a deal and in return the company getting hit with tariffs won’t have to do much. This allows Trump to show that he is making what his base will think are great deals built are mostly for show.

Fox News ‘personalities” [unsure if you can call them journalists] have started a health war on former Vice President [and Democrat candidate] Joe Biden claiming Biden has various ailments. As Trump spends hours a day watching Fox News, expect him to include their unproven information and conclude the information is true.

In an interview with CNBC:

  • “I’m a member of the US Chamber — maybe I’ll have to rethink that, because when you look at it, the chamber is probably more for the companies and the people that are members than they are for our country.” – This coming from a man who easily is in favor of big business.
  • “We should be entitled to have a fair playing field, but even without a fair playing field — because our Fed is very, very destructive to us.” – Confusing but the “Fed” is Jerome Powell, who Trump nominated as the Chairman of the Fed in November 2017.
  • “This country is allowing this French wine which is great, we have great wine, too, allowing it to come in for nothing. It is not fair.” – Now he will start a trade war with France over Wine?
  • “Because without tariffs, we would be absolutely, outside of something that I won’t even mention….” – And why won’t he mention it? Nothing there.
  • “Nobody’s going to be able to get through. And then [Mexican national guard] they’re also going to protect our southern border.” – So no need of a wall at the border?
  • “And China will, in my opinion, based on a lot of facts and a lot of knowledge…” – Who’s facts and knowledge. He definitely lack both.
  • “I can tell you they discriminate against me….. You know, people talk about collusion. The real conclusion is between the Democrats and these companies.” – Trump claims, without citing any evidence, that the big technology companies are biased against him.

At Trump’s flagship super PAC, America First Action, $33,000 was spent last year on a single event at the Prime Rib, a swanky DC steakhouse. The most expensive item on the menu is $65. Even with some booze, taxes and tip, did they have [say] 330 people there at $100 per person. AFA paid $120,000 to two firms tied to former Milwaukee sheriff [and Trump super-fan] David Clarke [for what work?], and the more than $460,000 spent over two years at Trump-owned properties [no shocker there but for what?].

In the 2018 cycle, AFA and its affiliated non-profit together raised about $75 million, well short of its $100 million goal. About $39 million of that went to the super PAC. By comparison, the Republican National Committee raised more than $233 million in individual contributions in the same cycle.

AFA was paying the equivalent of annual salaries to firms attached to Trump associates such as Sean Spicer, Katrina Pierson and Corey Lewandowski, not to mention Clarke, fueling the perception that the group has become a safe harbor for various Trump cast-offs and family friends.

The Trump administration is planning a costly Independence Day speech at the Lincoln Memorial, despite its failure to pay off $7 million in debt from the 2017 inauguration. To cover the lack of funds from the federal government, the District of Columbia will be pulling money out of its Emergency Planning and Security fund that is typically dedicated to security measures for emergencies and diplomatic events.

A bit of humor:
Reporter: Are you inviting the Raptors to the White House?
Trump: Those beautiful beasts? Sure
Reporter: No I mean the Toronto Raptors?
Trump: Who?

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Trump stays in the shadows in Paris

In Paris for the 100 anniversary of the end of World War I, the reason for scrapping the journey to the Aisne-Marne American cemetery came down to safety: Donald Trump’s Marine One helicopter cannot fly in low cloud cover, a decision that is made by military and security officials and not by Trump. But there did not appear to be a backup plan.

Trump did not make any statements of regret at not being able to visit the cemetery. Late Sunday, the White House defended Trump’s decision not to attend, citing concerns about disrupting traffic. “A car ride of two-and-a-half hours, each way, would have required closures to substantial portions of the Paris roadways for the President’s motorcade, on short notice,” said press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders.

Trump has drawn criticism and accusations he was ignoring the sacrifice of American military personnel who died in World War I. If they could fight in the muddy trenches in Europe 100 years ago, he could somehow go to the cemetery.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our interests first; who cares about the others?’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.”

Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, convened at the Élysée Palace before traveling together in motor coaches to the Arc de Triomphe. They walked in a large group to the event site under black umbrellas. Trump pulled up in his own vehicle and walked in separately, due to “security protocols,” according to the White House.

A senior French official said at the time that Trump took Macron’s words out “out of context” and clarified the language Macron used, saying that the French leader did not mean he wanted a European army but better coordination and funding of Europe’s already-existing resources.

Following a meeting with Trump, Macron was able to explain a “misunderstanding” about the European force and the two put the matter to rest, a French presidential spokesman said over the weekend.

But it seems, it wasn’t the end of the issue.

It took him a couple of days [I guess he actually wanted some real facts to be used] and shot back at Macron by saying: “The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%,” Trump wrote, citing figures indicating political trouble for the French leader. So Trump can only go after Macron’s approval rating which [f actually true] is lower than Trump’s.

He also added “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!” Maybe but France is open to free trade as well as letting immigrants in. Trump has killed US’s involvement in the Trans Pacific Partnership, threatened to tear up NAFTA, etc.

Trump proudly identified himself as a nationalist as he advances an “America First” agenda which includes limiting immigration.

Remember when CNN White House reporter, Jim Acosta, was basically booted from the White house? CNN has filed a lawsuit against Trump and top aides for banning reporter Jim Acosta. Included in the list are Chief of staff John Kelly and press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders.

The Trump’s administration contends it has “broad discretion” to regulate press access to the White House as it fends off a legal challenge from CNN and other outlets over the revocation of journalist Jim Acosta’s “hard pass.” So basically they [errr] trump freedom of the press.

“Simpleton” has recently dropped the part of her criticism of Acosta where she accused him of grabbing a press aide’s arm and used a doctored video to show it as proof.

The judge, an appointee of Trump, in the case of Acosta against Trump and others heard 2 hours of arguments but decided to make a judgement the day after. The government said that it would be perfectly legal for the White House to revoke a journalist’s press pass if it didn’t agree with their reporting. “As a matter of law… yes,” he said.

By filing for a temporary restraining order to unblock Acosta’s ban from the White House, CNN is seeking what’s known as “emergency relief”. CNN is also asking for “permanent relief,” meaning a declaration from the judge that Trump’s revocation of Acosta’s press pass was unconstitutional. This legal conclusion could protect other reporters from retaliation by the administration. The judge is only expected to rule on the “emergency relief”.

Acosta has returned to his post at the White House following a court ruling that forced the Trump administration to reinstate his press pass. The judge granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order on Fifth Amendment grounds and criticized last week’s blacklisting of Acosta as “shrouded in mystery,” noting that the Justice Department lawyer in the case couldn’t even say who ordered the decision.

“… we have to create rules and regulations for conduct, etcetera. We’re going to write them up. It’s not a big deal. If he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference,” said Trump. Notice how he is aiming his words at Acosta and not journalists in general. Now if only Trump himself can behave. Don’t expect Trump to allow Acosta any questions [or maybe even others at CNN].

Spinning things differently, “Simpleton” said in her statement, “Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House.” The judge did not make that clear.

Trump has replaced his deputy national security adviser after she feuded with first lady Melania Trump. The first lady complained to her husband that she was unhappy with how she was being treated by Mira Ricardel.

Ricardel is a part of at least two “factions” in the administration. She was brought in by National Security Adviser John Bolton. Another faction has Chief of Staff John Kelly joined with Kirstjen Nielsen. She has followed him during her career.

“A lot of administrations make changes after midterms. I will say that, for the most part, I’m very, very happy with this Cabinet. We’re doing a great job,” Trump said. Except you know that he’s already made quite a few changes prior to the mid-terms and more on the way. 25 senior officials have left the administration in 22 months.

Aside from Ricardel, there is talk of at least Kelly and Nielsen joining the unemployment line.

In just under 2 years, 9 Trump cabinet members have left the cabinet. Compare that to 9 who left President Obama’s cabinet in the first full term or George W. Bush’s first term where only 4 left. There are 3 more [Nielsen, maybe Kelly and maybe Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Almost six in 10 of Trump’s “A Team” staffers — defined as the most senior and most influential within the administration — have already departed the White House even before Trump’s two-year anniversary in office.

Since the mid-term election [over a week ago], Trump and many in the conservative media have dramatically reduced the frequency and intensity of their dire warnings about the migrant caravan now that they no longer feel the same urgency to stir up GOP voters. Trump himself hasn’t tweeted about it except once in the past 2 weeks. I guess it wasn’t that critical to stop.

Even Trump’s favorite outlet, Fox News, had spent more than 33 hours discussing the caravan through Election Day, according to a study by Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog organization. On Nov. 7, the day after the election, Fox had no discussions centered on the caravan. On Nov. 8, the network spent four minutes and 57 seconds on discussions centered on the caravan, according to the study.

Trump called for stopping the recounts in Florida’s votes for Senate and governor, alleging without evidence that many ballots are missing and forged and that a valid tally is not possible. The recounts are happening in accordance with Florida law because of the tight margins in the votes.

Republicans Rick Scott, the governor, went on national television to accuse Sen. Bill Nelson, whom he is hoping to unseat, of trying to “commit fraud to try to win this election.”

White House officials have told congressional leaders and appropriators that Trump does not want any additional relief funding sent to Puerto Rico. “The people of Puerto Rico are wonderful but the inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations,” Trump tweeted on October 23. “The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!”

“The prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches!” Trump tweeted, falsely blaming his foes for a sell-off motivated by jitters in the tech sector.

Yes. Looks like a new phrase he will use to describe the abuse he will be getting primarily from the Democrats and the media and anyone else who dislikes his presidency: “Presidential Harassment”.

Trump tweeted “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation…” If that bad, why haven’t you shut the investigation down? Oh ya. You don’t want to do a “Nixon”.

Trump tweeted “Not seen in many years, America’s steelworkers get a hard-earned raise because of my Administration’s policies to help bring back the U.S. steel industry, which is critical to our National Security.” Yes Donald. They haven’t had a raise in years. And why a raise now after the corporate tax cuts you gave away almost a year ago?

The Trump administration imposed penalties on 17 individuals over their alleged roles in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The fresh sanctions from the Treasury Department come hours after Saudi prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for five people charged in the death of the Virginia resident, who was a contributor to The Washington Post.

Trump tweeted “When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to “find” enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!” So he’s still implying that there is voter fraud but has done nothing about it because he knows he’s wrong and if he did something it will interfere with the rights of citizens to vote.

The post mid-term election blues

CNN’s White House reporter, Jim Acosta, who has had some previous “run ins” with Donald Trump had his “hard” press pass revoked.

Trump seemed to get upset when Acosta asked him about the invading caravans from Central America. Trump tried to stop him but Acosta continued to press on.

“White House staff don’t pull passes over personal pique, only over threats to the president,” professor Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project. But White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders claimed that Acosta grabbed a White House intern’s arm when the intern tried to grab the microphone away from Acosta.

The video shows that arms brushed. That was it. Sanders cited this alleged “inappropriate behavior” to suspend Acosta’s pass. Trump’s boosters used words like “pushed” and “slammed.” They screamed “assault” and “abuse.”

And who’s right?

Various reporters, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and The White House Correspondents’ Association sided with Acosta.

In June 2016, Trump told CNN in an interview that, if elected, he would not revoke credentials. At the White House, “it’s a different thing,” he said. “When I’m representing the United States, I wouldn’t do that.”

Trump claims Acosta was a reporter going back to the Reagan years. According to his biography on CNN, he seemed to start in the new business around 1998. Reagan was out in 1989. How does Trump know Acosta 20+ years ago – except maybe he likes to watch the news constantly.

With the mid-term elections over, special counsel Robert Mueller may be writing his final report. Trump made clear once again that  he believes the investigation is a waste of time and money. “It’s a disgrace, it should have never been started because there was no crime,” Trump said. If nothing wrong was done, why does he continue to complain.

Even after Mueller completes his work, the midterm election results mean that House Democrats will also be in a position to expand investigations of Trump. That means Mueller will not be the end of Russia-related questions of Trump and his campaign.

Trump is considering former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Senator Lindsey Graham and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to replace fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Does this mean Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker will go back to that job or maybe take over from Rosenstein. Graham would less likely be a candidate since Trump would take that [slim] chance that in a special election, Graham’s replacement would lose.

Now it has been revealed that Whitaker was on the advisory board of a Florida company that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission and served with a $26 million judgment earlier this year for what court documents called “a scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” The company, World Patent Marketing, promised to help inventors get patents. He was paid by the company and the company donated to his failed run for the US Senate.

Whitaker was so involved in the company he sent a threatening email to a disgruntled customer, which was filed in the case by the FTC. In it, Whitaker accuses a customer of “blackmail or extortion” because the customer had threatened to complain to the Better Business Bureau.

Not surprising after the lead for the Republican nominee for governor started to shrink, both the nominee and Trump claimed there was fraud going on. Now that and a senate seat and agriculture commissioner will head for a recount as the Republican majorities are quite thin.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals court upheld a ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported. This means a nationwide injunction allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue will remain in effect. The Trump administration has already asked the Supreme Court to review the injunction.

Trump called a federal court ruling halting construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline a “disgrace” and suggested that his administration intends to appeal. “It’s a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace. 48,000 jobs, I approved it, it’s ready to start,” he told reporters. How is it political? Oh forget it. You know that won’t go anywhere.

The judge found that the US government’s use of a 2014 environmental review to justify issuing a presidential permit for construction of the cross-border pipeline violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

In former first lady Michelle Obama forthcoming memoir in which the former first lady said she would “never forgive” Trump for his role in the “birther” movement, “She got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always expect a little controversy,” was Trump response.

Then he said “I’ll give you a little controversy back, I’ll never forgive (President Barack Obama) for what he did to our US military. It was depleted, and I had to fix it. What he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.” Depleted? Trump’s budget is easily an under 10% increase from the last Obama military budget. “Depleted” would describe a military with nothing spent.

Trump signed a presidential proclamation that will bar migrants who cross into the US illegally through the southern border from seeking asylum. The proclamation put into effect a new rule that would ban migrants from applying for asylum outside of official ports of entry. The American Civil Liberties Union has already called the rule “illegal,” and legal challenges are expected to follow.

After French President Emmanuel Macron suggested earlier on in the week that Europe needs its own “army” to counter Russia, Chines and US threats, Trump came [as usual] testy by saying that then the US doesn’t need to “subsidize” the military in Europe. Could that also include NATO where he’s not a fan of? Probably. Trump also found it “very insulting”.

While in Europe to commemorate that 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, a White House statement said the planned visit had been “canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather. An American delegation led by Chief of Staff General John Kelly and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford will attend on their behalf.” So they can’t go but the weather is OK to send his Chief of Staffs?

Trump tweeted “I am in Paris getting ready to celebrate the end of World War One. Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?” To me it sounds like it will be a big party.

Trump has consistently complained that NATO members don’t adequately contribute to the shared defense agreement, suggesting the other 28 members somehow owe the US money. Actually, all alliance members commit to spending 2% of their GDP on defense. While few have reached that threshold, most members have increased spending in recent years and are nearing the suggested level of spending.

As forest rage in California again Trump tweeted “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” He then blamed the Democrats on the state level for them. Except almost all the forests in California are on federal government lands!

Campaigns and PACs spent at least $3.2 million at Trump-owned and branded properties throughout the two-year midterm election cycle. And the total could rise after post-election financial reports are published by the commission. No single group spent more than the Republican National Committee, which spent at least $1.2 million at the properties since the start of 2017.

How good is the economy under Trump, another 40 stores belonging to Sears Holdings will close early next year in addition to the 200 already announced. In just over a year, they have shut down about half their stores in the US – under 500.

 

Bad week for Trump

This past Tuesday may go down as the worst day for Donald Trump in his administration.

In a busy day, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to eight criminal counts, admitting that “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” he acted to keep information that would have been harmful to the candidate and the campaign from becoming public during the 2016 election cycle. Cohen faces up to 65 years in prison.

Cohen’s under-oath admission — in which he said he violated campaign finance law “in coordination and at the direction” of Trump — holds specific and significant weight for Trump. If the prosecution can show that a candidate knew about the violation and knew about the act and participated, then the candidate can be personally liable.

The charges expose, through the criminal information filed against Cohen in court, that he acted with Trump and his allies, including David Pecker, the CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc., to suppress potentially damaging claims against the now-President. Though Trump himself isn’t named, the court filing refers to an Individual-1, who by January 2017 had become president of the United States. Pecker has received immunity.

The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents about hush-money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to 2016 presidential election. The contents were removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration. It was unclear whether the documents were destroyed or simply moved to a location known to fewer people.

Not surprising, Trump lashed out at Cohen of making up “stories in order to get a ‘deal”‘ from federal prosecutors. Trump, a legal expert [sarcasm], said, “Michael Cohen plead (sic) guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime.”

Cohen’s lawyer already stated that Cohen isn’t looking for a pardon and I don’t think Trump would giving him one after throwing him under the bus.

Trump also complained that “President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!” Trump was apparently referring to a fine levied on the former president’s 2008 campaign over missing and delayed disclosure of high-dollar donors in the final days of that race. I don’t think you can compare as one clearly influenced the election.

Trump changes his story again saying “What Michael Cohen pled to weren’t crimes,” Trump told Fox News, suggesting Cohen accepted a plea deal on the campaign finance violations because the other crimes he admitted to were more serious. “He made a great deal. He was in another business totally unrelated to me where I guess there was fraud involved.”

Trump forgets [or maybe not] that Cohen’s testimony against him is not that Trump paid Cohen who paid the two women but did so to use campaign money for something that wasn’t campaign related and possibly alter or hide information that could affect the election outcome.

Trump claimed payments to women shouldn’t be a campaign finance issue because “they didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me.” Let him prove he used his money and it sounds like he admits to knowing that money was paid. He also claimed that Cohen worked for him for a decade, saying he was just a “part-time attorney” who had many other clients. With the trouble Trump gets into, I doubt many. Or many continuously.

Trump suggested that Cohen’s legal trouble stemmed from his other businesses, including involvement with the New York City taxi cab industry, and that he decided to offer “lies” about Trump to reduce his own legal exposure. I don’t think Cohen’s issues with the taxi industry is anything but small potatoes compared to his political side.

White House press secretary, Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, said “I’m not getting into the back and forth details. I can tell you as the President has stated on numerous occasions, he did nothing wrong. There are no charges against him in this. Just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal doesn’t mean that implicates the President on anything.” Except Cohen is under oath and doesn’t need additional jail time for lying under oath and we already know Trump knows nothing about the law.

When a reporter asked Sanders if Trump ever lied to Americans [for example where Trump said he knew nothing about the payments but now seems to remember], Sanders replied ” I think that’s a ridiculous accusation. …. There are no charges against him.” So she didn’t really answer and no charges yet. She referred substantive questions to the president’s personal counsel, Rudy Giuliani, who was at a golf course in Scotland – nice coincidence.

“It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time,” Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said. Is he serious? If so, Trump was fooled with Cohen doing this as his lawyer for 12 years. What does that tell you about Trump [that we already don’t know]?

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the most senior Republican in the Senate said “President should not be held responsible for the actions of the people he’s trusted.” Ummm. Trump is their boss. He has the ultimate responsibility.

A former federal prosecutor said “No longer can you say Mueller is on a witch hunt when you have his own lawyer pleading guilty to things that were designed to impact the election.” But Trump, not a lawyer, will ignore that and his followers will as well.

And Cohen’s lawyers get even more busy as investigators in New York state issued a subpoena to Michael Cohen as part of their probe into the Trump Foundation. Cohen could potentially be a significant source of information for state investigators looking into whether Trump or his charity broke state law or lied about their tax liability.

If evidence of alleged crimes is found, the matter could be referred to prosecutors, who could pursue criminal charges and seek the release of Trump’s tax returns.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes, a major victory for special counsel Robert Mueller. But jurors were unable to reach a verdict on 10 charges, and Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those counts. Manafort was found guilty of five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. He faces a maximum of 80 years in prison.

One of the jurors from Paul Manafort’s trial said that although she “did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty,” the evidence was “overwhelming. … We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt.” The juror held out on 10 counts but agreed on 8.

He still faces a second set of criminal charges in a Washington, DC, federal court, of failure to register his foreign lobbying and of money laundering conspiracy related to the same Ukrainian political work that was central to the Virginia case.

Not surprising, Trump said that the charges Manafort was convicted of have “nothing to do with Russian collusion” and criticized Mueller’s investigation for arriving at this point.

Some higher up Republicans are already saying Manafort shouldn’t be pardoned as it could add “interfering with an investigation” according to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, whose entanglements with Trump’s finances are extensive, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen. The interview, which focused on Cohen and the payments, happened weeks ago under a deal negotiated by his attorney.

Weisselberg, whose relationship with Trump dates back decades, is also the treasurer of Trump’s charity, helped prepared Trump’s tax returns and is the only non-family member to serve as trustee of the trust that holds the President’s interest in his own companies. “Allen knows where all the financial bodies are buried. Allen knows every deal, he knows every dealership, he knows every sale, anything and everything that’s been done” said one person.

“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job,” Trump said in response in an interview, who asked if he believes Democrats would try to impeach him if they win back control of Congress. Doing a “great” job has nothing to do with doing something illegal or un-American. “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.” I don’t think the market crashed from the previous impeachments.

“I give myself an A+. I don’t think any President has ever done what I have done,” Trump said inflating his ego by himself even more. “…Soon to be two unbelievable Supreme Court justices…” He judges his performance by maybe getting 2 supreme court justices appointed? If normal justices are nominated, there shouldn’t be any doubt they get appointed.

Trump sharply decried those who testify against former confidants to ease legal trouble, bemoaning the longstanding practice. “It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal,” Trump said in the interview. So he now wants to rewrite the justice system. “I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers.” So he knows a lot of people who ended up in prison. What a good judge of personality.

Trump tweeted “‘Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.’ Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the “other side” including deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks,…” Or maybe Sessions meant something coming from Trump or his minions.

As we know already, Trump knows nothing about the legal system. Case in point. There is no such federal crime for collusion and yet he keeps on saying it. Trump could be damaged politically should there be findings of conspiracy or obstruction of justice in a report special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to deliver at the conclusion of the investigation.

White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with Mueller’s probe, participating in several interviews spanning 30 hours over the last nine months. McGahn has provided “detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice,” including providing information that the Mueller team otherwise would not have learned about.

McGahn’s decision to cooperate was partly due to the fact that the President’s initial legal team had decided to fully cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump tweeted “I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction.” I don’t think there is anything to compare between previous probes such as Watergate and this mess.

Yes. There is other news related to Trump.

If the administration can’t get any lower or more controversial, now there is talk of pulling President Barrack Obama’s security clearance. This would be unprecedented. It has been a long standing that any living president had access [if they wanted it] to the latest security briefings [for example]. While they ate not a leader and of limited influence, they were given continued access when they met foreign leaders or even if the current president requires advise. In the case of possibly revoking Obama’s access this is all political.

Regarding the removal of the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and probably nine others former and current security official from his and President Obama’s administration, Trump tied his dislike of the Russian probe to them. But White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said it was his “erratic conduct and behavior”.

Trump joined supporters in Charleston, West Virginia, for a political rally to celebrate his administration’s proposal to allow states to set their own emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants. The move would reverse Obama administration efforts to combat climate change and marks the fulfillment of a campaign promise at the heart of his appeal.

The EPA formally unveiled the details of its new plan to devolve regulation of coal-fired power plants back to the states, one that is expected to give a boost to the coal industry and increase carbon emissions nationwide. If there is a bright side, the states [assuming they are sane] can keep the current regulations as is or limited modifications. Since 2007, coal production has dropped from around 1150 “short” tons in 2007 to about 750 “short” tons in 2017.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler argued the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan — the policy being replaced by this week’s proposal — “exceeded the agency’s legal authority” and argued the old regulations led to rising energy prices which have “hurt low and middle income Americans the most.” EPA says the rule could cut electricity prices by 0.2% to 0.5% around 2025. So for a $100 invoice, someone will save 20 cents or a bit more. Meanwhile, what about the pollution? Lung disease, asthma or premature deaths?

Giuliani used the line “truth isn’t truth” when he was trying to make the case that having Trump sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wouldn’t accomplish much because of the he-said-she-said nature of witnesses’ recollections.

Giuliani cited as an example former FBI Director James Comey, who has said that Trump pushed him at a private meeting to ease up in the federal investigation of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has disputed that. But as a lawyer doesn’t he know that it is the court to decide who is saying the truth [with witnesses]? Did he actually go to law school?

Giuliani said that the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and Russians “was originally for the purpose of getting information about (Hillary) Clinton,” but denied any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. If you remember, Trump and others said the meetings originally for adoption matters. This further hammers a nail against Donald Trump Jr. who stated it was for adoptions. Perjury?

Trump tweeted “… But virtually everybody is saying this, & when our Trade Deals are made, & cost cutting done, you haven’t seen anything yet!” Yes. Cost cutting usually means jobs cuts. “Companies are moving back to the U.S.A.” They moved out? Who came back?

Trump tweeted “Our Economy is setting records on virtually every front – Probably the best our country has ever done. Tremendous value created since the Election. The World is respecting us again! Companies are moving back to the U.S.A.” Yup. Records? After shutting down more than 5,000 stores in 2017, there have been more than 4,000 store closures announced so far this year [after 8 months].If the world was respecting the US, North Korea wouldn’t still be developing nuclear bombs, no need for tariffs, etc.

Is Trump getting nervous about the Mueller investigation?

Donald Trump said his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, should end special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, arguing that the ongoing probe “continues to stain our country”. Sessions recused himself and assigned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to handle the probe. Shouldn’t Trump know that?

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, attempted to walk back the tweet saying that Trump was “expressing his opinion on his favored medium for asserting his First Amendment right of free speech. He said ‘should’ not ‘must’ and no Presidential order was issued or will be.” Except it is one thing for an ordinary person to make that comment, but different if supposedly the President of the US. Carries a bit of extra weight.

White House press secretary and puppet, Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said Trump was “stating his opinion” and “stating it clearly.”

So exactly how many times will Trump tweet or say the wrong words and his lackeys have to correct him? Seems everyone outside his administration and supporters believe “should” is a pretty clear directive. If you say to someone “You should buy a some milk.” Is that an opinion, a suggestion or [when coming from someone with authority] to do it.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!” tweeted Trump. This with just under 100 days before the mid-term elections. Trump claims [with no proof] that the US has the worst immigration policies in the world.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said previously that border wall funding would “probably” have to wait until after midterms and that a government shutdown is “not going to happen.”

In part of a Twitter-storm aimed at the Russian investigation general counsel Robert Mueller, Trump said “Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship…” It was not immediately clear what Trump meant when he claimed there were conflicts of interests involving Mueller.

The New York Times reported in January that Trump claimed a dispute over membership fees had prompted Mueller to leave a Trump golf club in Washington in 2011 when he was FBI Director. I don’t think Mueller is petty enough to hold a grudge for 6+ years on something so trivial.

Trump went after Mueller also for leaking Mueller mentioned the New York Times publisher’s [A.G. Sulzberger] private meeting with Trump. He then called the media “Very unpatriotic!” for putting many lives at risk [from what?]. The publisher wanted it off the record but went public after Trump did and the meeting was about Trump’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric”.

But it was Sulzberger who said that Trump’s any-journalist comments [such as calling them “the enemy of the people”] would endanger journalists, could lead to violence and eroding “a commitment to free speech and a free press”.

Despite Trump’s “failing New York Times” nickname, the Times is actually experiencing a surge in subscribers and popularity. Its profits increased by about two-thirds in the first quarter of 2018. Its “The Daily” podcast brings in millions of listeners each month. This after winning the election he lauded the paper as a “great, great American jewel”.

At a Tampa rally:

  • Trump blasted cancer-stricken Republican Sen. John McCain for his thumbs down vote helping to stall GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • He also renewed his theme that his campaign is responsible for department stores bringing back “Merry Christmas” signage. Unsure how he did that.
  • Trump boasted his tariff war was reviving American steel making [no proof there and its early].
  • He vowed to stand up for the National Anthem [it’s not like he can use an executive order to force players not the kneel].
  • On tariffs, “Our farmers are true patriots. And you know what our farmers are saying? It’s okay, we can take it – these are incredible people.” Yes, this after the government bailed them out to a tune of $12 billion.
  • Trump claimed that Americans needed their IDs “to buy groceries.” So the same should be for voting. Hmmmm.
  • At the end of the rally he said “I will leave now because I am boring you to death, thank you.” For once, he said something right.

John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, took to Twitter to respond to Trump’s comments: “Gross and pathetic – as usual.” Meghan McCain claimed that after a similar comment about her father in February, she had a phone call with Trump [and Melania] about her father’s cancer diagnosis and Trump assured her he wouldn’t disparage her father again. He lied… again.

Giuliani said Trump’s legal team was investigating the tape of Trump and Cohen and suggested it might have been doctored. But “He [Giuliani] expressly waived attorney client privilege last week and repeatedly and inaccurately — as proven by the tape — talked and talked about the recording, forfeiting all confidentiality,” said Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis.

Giuliani has said that Cohen has been lying for years. Funny how Giuliani has decided to say it now after the mess Cohen may have brought Trump and not [say] a year or two years ago – where if he said anything he said only positive things.

“Four months, they’re not going to be colluding with Russia, which I don’t even know if that’s a crime, colluding about Russians,” Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, said. Former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired, said collusion “is not actually a thing that exists under the federal laws of the United States” but any American that conspired with a foreign government to commit crimes against the US is a crime let alone other crimes such as conspiracy.

Recently the intelligence and foreign policy chieftains mustered in the White House Briefing Room to promise what FBI Director Christopher Wray said would be “fierce determination and focus” to thwart Russian meddling in the midterm elections. Problem was that Trump was not around. Seems Trump still doesn’t believe them. Sometime after Trump said there was no Russian election interference – even though he said they were involved not even a couple of weeks ago!

Even 20+ months late. Trump think that by admitting there was Russian election interference, he thinks his election win wasn’t legitimate – as if he will lose his [so-called] presidency.

In a video posted by a pro-Trump web site, Donald Trump Jr. compared the present-day Democratic Party to Nazis and disparaged history taught by academics. “You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s and what was actually put out there … and you look at it compared to like the DNC platform of today…” He gave no facts on where they are actually alike but used a promo video Dinesh D’Souza [pardoned by his father].

“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” Trump tweeted. “They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more.” Notice how he had to put a positive spin in his favor at the end.

Trump argued that he “made them richer” and that the Koch network “is highly overrated.” The Koch brothers were already billionaires before they had anything to do with Trump and their net worth is a combined $103.4 billion. They didn’t even back him in 2016. This came after a senior official in the Koch network said “The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage” recently.

An estimated $400 million was donated to GOP candidates by the Koch network in the 2016 election – and that’s without supporting Trump.

Trump again complaining how the US has had bad trade deal hurting farmers. And yet, statistics show in 2017, it was the third highest export year ever. Surplus of $21 billion. The downturn is because of low commodity prices and production surplus – not trade issues.

The Chinese government said that it would impose duties of 25%, 20%, 10% and 5% on the products if the Trump administration follows through on threats to tax $200 billion of Chinese goods. These new tariffs would affect about 38% of all American exports to China, which are worth about $170 billion in total.  China listed 5,207 US products that it would target in an effort to “safeguard its own legitimate interests.”

“Simpleton” Sanders said in a statement that “instead of retaliating, China should address the longstanding concerns about its unfair trading practices.”

While tariffs have helped steel producers like Reliance Steel & Aluminum hauled in record sales, thanks to an 18% spike in prices and Nucor recorded the best second quarter in its history. Its profit more than doubled, it has hurt those who buy steel from them like General electric, 3M, Harley-Davidson, governments and others.

In a recent speech Trump said:

  • “Nobody thought we were going to be this good. … When I took over those numbers were bad, and they were heading in the wrong direction, because of regulation….” Economists say that the US economy wasn’t doing nearly as bad before Trump took office as he suggests.
  • “The Canadians you have a totally closed market … they have a 375 per cent tax on dairy products, other than that it’s wonderful to deal. And we have a very big deficit with Canada, a trade deficit.” Can’t be closed if there is NAFTA and even then TPP. Trump also repeated his claim that the US has a trade deficit with Canada, but that is true only in goods. When services are included, such as insurance, tourism, and engineering, the US had a $2.8 billion surplus with Canada last year. He forgets that the US government subsidizes their farmers to a tune of $12 billion and it’s more like 275%.

The US Treasury Department is sanctioning Turkey’s ministers of justice and interior in response to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. “We’ve seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong,” Sanders said, calling Brunson’s detention “unfair and unjust.”

The Democrats blasted the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons are a boon to terrorists and criminals, and threaten public safety. Eight states filed suit against the Trump administration over its decision.

Trump said in a tweet he was “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public” and had already spoken to the NRA about it. Trump said the prospect “doesn’t seem to make such sense,” though it wasn’t clear if he knew that his own State Department had reached a settlement last month with the designer who first published downloadable instructions. Probably not.

Trump said he is willing to meet with Iran’s leadership, without preconditions, “whenever they want…. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” Trump said. “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. I’m ready to meet whenever they want to…. No preconditions…. They want to meet, I’ll meet. Whenever they want.” Did you notice how he repeats himself?

You knew this was going to happen: The Trump administration announced a plan to revoke a signature Obama-era environmental regulation. The administration wants to freeze a rule mandating that automakers work to make cars substantially more fuel efficient.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation cited safety as one reason for the changes. They claimed the reduced standards would make new cars more affordable. EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum says if more people buy new cars, it will lead to an increase in cleaner, safer cars on the road. [And more pollution.] Thirteen states, plus Washington, DC, have adopted California’s standards. Colorado announced plans to become the fourteenth.

The administration also proposed a withdrawal of California’s Clean Air Act preemption waiver. California has, for decades, had a waiver allowing it to set its own emissions standards because the state had distinct air quality issues. In 2007, a federal court allowed California to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide.

The Trump administration says immigrant advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union should be responsible for tracking down more than 500 parents who were separated from their children and deported without them. The ACLU says it is eager to help locate the parents but argued that the government “must bear the ultimate burden of finding the parents”. District Judge Dana Sabraw also said the ultimate responsibility is the Trump administration. “In reviewing the status report it appears that only 12 or 13 of close to 500 parents have been located, which is just unacceptable at this point,” Sabraw said.

And you thought the first week of the year would be quiet!

Happy New Year! [It can only get better!]

Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon for the early months of Donald Trump’s reign was interviewed in a new book by Michael Wolff called “Fire and Fury”. Among the quirks and news is that Trump didn’t want anyone to touch his toothbrush [poisoned], he ate at McDonald’s because nobody knew he was going there, Ivanka Trump would want to run for president at one point, Trump is semi-literate, he trusted his expertise no matter how irrelevant [even if someone else was an expert], dealing with Trump is like trying to figure out what a child wants, and Bannon called Ivanka “dumb as a brick”.

A June 2016 meeting [purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton] between Donald Trump Jr., other Trump people and Russian officials where Bannon called it unpatriotic and treasonous especially for not notifying the FBI then and Wolff writes that Trump believed his presidential nomination would boost his brand and deliver “untold opportunities” — but that he never expected to win.

Wolff was generally granted access to the White House with a “blue badge” instead of the traditional press badge, giving him wide access to the West Wing.

Wolff said in an author’s note that the book was based on more than 200 interviews, including multiple conversations with the president and senior staff. But White House press secretary Sarah [“Simpleton”] Sanders said Wolff “never actually sat down with the president” and had spoken with him just once. We hope that Wolff has taped some of his interviews, especially with Trump.

Trump unleashed on his former chief strategist and campaign chairman who was interviewed greatly in the book by saying “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party. Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory…. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base – he’s only in it for himself.”

Oh his statement above, it is so out there on numerous levels [and I am not defending Bannon].

Trump attorney Charles Harder threatened legal action against Bannon over “disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements” to block the book’s release – already a best seller. Of course Trump has threatened lawsuits previously and you know how many of those went to court. Harder said what Wolff did violated confidentiality agreements.

Bannon had criticized Trump and his family in recent interviews, mocking the president’s intellect, criticizing the operations of the White House and torching Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. Advisers have supposedly also tried to tell Trump that Bannon is not responsible for his win, that Bannon leaks damaging information to the news media.

Trump, not surprising, went after Wolff by saying “I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him…” So exactly how did he get access to the “blue badge”? Another security problem? And sources don’t exist as people made up? Surely they would have been easily verified [and sloppy journalism].

Sanders faced questions about Trump’s mental fitness to serve as president. “It’s disgraceful and laughable. If he was unfit, he probably wouldn’t be sitting there, wouldn’t have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the Republican Party has ever seen.” Sanders disparaged the book, calling it “complete fantasy” and characterizing it as “sad” and “pathetic.”

When asked about examples of falsehoods, Sanders said she couldn’t go through every page but pointed specifically to the claim that Trump didn’t know who former House Speaker John Boehner was. Did she actually read the book?

“I would certainly think that going after the president’s son in an absolutely outrageous” said Sanders. Why can’t they go after Trump’s kids? They are involved in the administration. They didn’t go after Trump’s two kids who aren’t. Considering Ivanka also got nailed in the book, Sanders didn’t defend her.

“Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation,” says Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee who gave a briefing to a dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate in December. ” Some knew of Republicans that were concerned, maybe equally concerned, but whether they would act on those concerns was their worry. … Mr. Trump is showing signs of impairment that the average person could not see,” Lee said. “He is becoming very unstable very quickly. There is a need for neuropsychiatric evaluation that would demonstrate his capacity to serve.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller is aware of an unsuccessful attempt by Trump to lobby Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia probe. Trump had ordered White House counsel Don McGahn last March to stop Sessions from recusing himself from oversight of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Oddly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have changed their tune, suggesting Sessions should stay in the job as long as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. If Sessions were to resign or be fired by Trump, then the President could install a new attorney general — potentially a loyalist who could influence the Mueller probe. Even a number of Republicans want Sessions to resign.

George Papadopoulos [a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign] told an Australian diplomat that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton in May of last year, a conversation that might have played a role in the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A few weeks before their meeting, Papadopoulos was told Moscow had thousands of emails relating to Clinton.

Trump leveled his latest criticism of the Justice Department, suggesting the executive department is part of a “deep state” that he believes has sought to undermine him.

Former Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin “…put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act?” Trump tweeted. Supposedly Abedin forward a confidential Email a number of years ago which included passwords to her personal Yahoo account. Some such as Trump believe it was Russian state sponsored hackers who hacked into Yahoo. Of course we know Trump believes in everything.

That didn’t take long. 252 minutes into the new year, Trump tweeted “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” No one knows what brought this on. I’m surprised he didn’t rib it in more at President Obama and President G. W. bush while at it.

The US is currently withholding over $250 million in aid at this time to Pakistan until Pakistan gets tough on ISIS and other terrorist organizations. However, some think Pakistan may turn to Russia for aid.

Trump, on New Year’s Eve tweeted “I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year.” Awe. Same to you. We will see where you are in 2019.

As well, he tweeted “People are much better off now not to mention ISIS, VA, Judges, Strong Border, 2nd A, Tax Cuts & more?” ISIS is better off now? Still unsure how things improved for Virginia [or is that the Veterans Administration?], a stronger border [still no wall], judges [he has yet to still hire more] and the 2nd Amendment [he hasn’t protected it more, just his NRA buddies have pressured him to do nothing after a couple of biggest mass murders in Us history].

Remember how Trump said after the tax bill that companies would pass their tax savings onto their employees? According to the White House’s own compilation and more recent announcements, only 16 companies in the S&P 500 have responded to the tax overhaul by raising wages, handing out bonuses or improving employee benefits.

For example, Wells Fargo decided to boost its minimum wage to $15 per hour and increase its charitable giving by 40%. That will trim just 5% [$215 million] from what they will save from the tax bill.

The tax bill may widen this: in the US, the richest 1% of families controlled nearly twice as much wealth in 2016 as the bottom 90%, according to the Federal Reserve.

Trump tweeted “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Seriously? The my button is bigger than yours? He is a man child.

Trump is now claiming credit that he was responsible for North and South Korea in talks for the North to join the upcoming winter Olympics. Sure. Was this after his nuclear button being bigger than Kim Jun Un’s button?

Growth in the Dow Jones during Trump’s first year in office to this point surpasses 17 of his predecessors since the Dow Jones industrial average was first formed in 1896 — trailing only Barack Obama, Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt [who’s first year was skyrocketing].

When Trump is at his Mar-A-Lago resort, things have changed since he first got his newest title. Partially for security reasons, he sits at one end when dining with the close family and others in the surrounding tables near him. A sort of buffer. It is also meant to keep the advice-givers, favor-askers and suck-ups at bay.

While Trump’s first few visits to the club were marked by frequent social media boasts from club members about their access to Trump — complete with photos — that has dwindled over the last few trips. Gone is the evidence of Trump dropping by weddings and fundraisers, replaced by people taking photos inside Mar-a-Lago and noting that they were told not to snap a shot of Trump.

At least 15 organizations [who have used the resort for years] have canceled events in his first year but replaced by Republican leaning events. There still was speculation of how much extra the resort [and indirectly Trump] charged the Republican events as he isn’t supposed to be making money elsewhere.

Trump claiming that what he has done made a difference when there was no deaths on commercial aircrafts last year in a tweet. But once again he is wrong. First, no the deaths statistic was for the world – not just the US. Second, there hasn’t been a commercial aviation death in the US since 2009 in Buffalo. That was during President Obama’s presidency and regulations came out after to the correct the problems after the investigation in the 2009 crash. Of course there has been many private jet crashes last year. He didn’t comment on those crashes and deaths.

Vice President Mike Pence’s neighbors hung a ‘Make America Gay Again’ banner outside his Aspen-area residence which were written on a rainbow flag, on a stone pillar that sits at the end of the driveways to both homes.

If you think another President will say this, good luck. What Trump tweeted “I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!”

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career. He has been a tremendous supporter…” actually Hatch wasn’t much of a supporter.

The US held a reception for the eight countries that vote against the UN resolution where the UN was against the Trump administration’s decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem. I’m sure it was a wild party.

Someone on Facebook said:

“Big Mouth on Netflix… crude, raunchy and completely hilarious.”

A response was:

“For a second I thought you meant that Trump is on Netflix….”

While not specifying Trump, “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter said in a blog post.

Is the US economy that great when Sears and K-Mart combined are shutting down another 103 stores soon?

The administration reversed two Obama era laws. One is about how to handle marijuana that is legal in 8 states and DC. Federal prosecutors could go after anyone in those states even though legal. As well, offshore drilling moratorium near Maine, Alaska, California and the Gulf of Mexico has been tossed out. Most of the states affected plus [of course] environmental groups aren’t happy.

Took them a year…… No more personal phones in the West Wing, where the president and most of his closest aides and senior staff work. The reason? They’re a security risk, said a statement sent by Sanders.

Trump gets his only legislative win in his first year

The tax bill in the House of Representatives passed along sharp partisan lines, 227 – 203, with 12 House GOP members opposing the legislation, and no Democrats voting for it. The senate eventually passed the bill and Donald Trump signed the bill into law.

GOP Senator Bob Corker said he didn’t request any modifications to the tax bill even though he as well as Trump and many cabinet ministers will eventually benefit from a provision that could help his bottom line. Corker was the only GOP senator to vote “no” on the bill the first time it went through the Senate.

Newt Gingrich says the “mainstream” media is lying about the tax bill but offered no apparent reason for the lying except saying that the typical American should see more money in their paycheck and maybe in their taxes but fails to mention how corporate America and the rich in general will benefit even more and how much will be added to the national debt. [The GOP always complained that the Democrats want to add to the debt while they don’t. Sure.]

Minutes after the House of Representatives  vote, White House Press Secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders started the daily briefing by listing off what the Trump administration sees as the past year’s major accomplishments. Here are some of them:

  • Nearly 1.7 million new jobs
  • Unemployment fell to 4.1%
  • Stock market reached a record high, closing above 24,000 for the first time in history
  • 22 regulations rolled back for every new regulation
  • The US withdrew from or renegotiated trade deals
  • Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Designed and built eight border wall prototypes
  • ISIS lost all of its territory and important strongholds in Iraq and Syria
  • Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch was confirmed

Under a normal administration, many of those wouldn’t even be mentioned as there are more important accomplishments, but with the exception of the tax bill [in the last week congress is in session], there were no major legislations passed. “The President has delivered on promise after promise, issue after issue, time after time. And we are just getting started,” Sanders said. Uh huh.

Sanders stood by claims that the tax bill will cost Trump money – this time specifically saying it will cost him money on the “personal side.” While it’s impossible to say specifically how Trump would be affected, since Trump  has never released his tax returns, an analysis of the tax bill has found this claim to be false.

Trump thinks the tax bill also repeals the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t, although the bill does chip away at one of the Affordable Care Act’s foundations. “The individual mandate is being repealed. When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is repealed. Because they get their money from the individual mandate. So the individual mandate is being repealed. So in this bill, not only do we have massive tax cuts and tax reform, we have essentially repealed Obamacare and will come up with something that will be much better…”

I am guessing most Americans [who believe Trump] will think the ACA is gone after what Trump said but will be surprised that it is almost all still there. You also can’t kill ACA until you replace it with something. This basically chops away at one section of ACA. The only thing removed was removing the fine for individuals who didn’t secure insurance. It is not repealing. Does he know the difference?

Ivanka Trump has also been pitching the tax bill that became law. But she had goofed when she said Americans will be delighted when they see their “relief that will be starting as early as February” of this year when in fact tax payers will only see it in 2019 for the 2018 tax year. The bill’s major provisions don’t kick in until January 2018. That means all the changes the bill includes won’t have any impact on tax filings until April 2019. And she’s a business woman?

Trump boasted that companies like Boeing, ComCast and AT&T have decided to give out “bonuses” to employees claiming it was the result of the tax bill being passed. That’s all but nice but those receiving them shouldn’t forget that employees will be taxed on it. As well, were those “bonuses” already decided in advance. Each of those three companies had good financial years.

“We broke every record” on the tax bill, Trump said in a speech. There are records for tax bills? Let me check Guinness Book of World Records. Nope.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the firing of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller would be a “gross abuse of power” and called for Congress to respond with “significant consequences” if Trump took that step. As well, pardoning of those charged in the special counsel’s investigation would represent crossing his “red line.”

Warner’s speech comes as Mueller is facing a growing number of Republicans who have been critical Mueller’s probe for being biased against Trump. They’ve pointed to the text messages of FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from Mueller’s team after the anti-Trump messages surfaced. That is just one individual. Do they equate the whole team being biased if one was?

Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn will leave the administration early next year and is expected to pursue work in the private sector. Dearborn had a wide portfolio in the White House and oversaw its political operation, public outreach and legislative affairs. Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser, is also expected to leave.

The US delegation [with Ambassador Nicki Haley at the head] vetoed a resolution to force the US to reverse their decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem. Later on in the week, the UN voted overwhelming [in a non-binding resolution] to get the US to change their mind. Aside from the US and Israel, no ally or “major” country sided with the US. 30+ abstained. This was even after the administration would “take names” and threaten to cut funding for those countries. Haley has suggested having a “party” for those who voted against the resolution – 8 countries besides the US. Unsure if Abstained countries would be invited.

Trump is heading to his Mar-A-Lago resort for the holidays – including the New Year’s Eve bash that he attends. Now the resort is charging more this year. Conflict of interest? Profiting from being the “President”? $750 if not a member, $600 if you are.

Trump sent our Christmas cards that are about 4 times the size of the Christmas card sent out by the Obamas last year. Thankfully, his picture is not on the front.

In total, Trump will have spent 106 days of his first year in office at one of his own properties when he arrives in Florida a couple of days before Christmas.

Departures were buyouts, retirements and individuals quitting, but at the Environmental Protection Agency, a total of more than 700 employees, including more than 200 scientists have left this year.

The Trump administration wanted to chop 3,100 jobs but is actually budgeted to chop over 4,000 jobs.

After a deadly train crash in Washington State Trump said that “It is all the more reason why we must start immediately fixing the infrastructure of the United States.” This is before the National Transportation Safety Board can say if it’s too early to know if the crash was due to high speed. The train was reportedly going about 50 MPH over the speed limit – passing vehicles next to the tracks.

“The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!” is what his first tweet after the deadly train crash, Trump didn’t mention victims and first responders. He followed up with a tweet about victims 10 minutes later.

After adding a possible $1.5 trillion to the deficit for his tax plan that helps the wealthy more, he wants to spend possibly an additional $7 billion on infrastructure and yet he has been office and hasn’t made this a priority. Instead he is too busy with failed legislation and Executive Orders [travel ban for an example] and approving another country’s capitol.

Donald Trump Jr. suggested that the investigation around his father’s campaign has been fueled by government higher-ups who have conspired to block his father’s agenda. “There is, and there are, people at the highest levels of government that don’t want to let America be America,” Donald Trump Jr. told a gathering of young conservative activists in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump Jr. railed against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and attacked the media’s coverage of the Russia story, saying the ongoing probe was emblematic of the kind of “rigged system” his father had railed against during the campaign. Of course, like his father, no proof.

The Trump administration will propose revoking a rule that makes spouses of thousands of immigrant workers eligible to work while in the U.S., potentially complicating a major driver of technology jobs. Since 2015, the spouses of H-1B, or high-skilled, visa holders waiting for green cards have been eligible to work in the U.S. on H-4 dependent visas. India accounts for 70% of all H-1B workers. The visa is valid for three years, and can be renewed for another three years.

Twitter has suspended at least three accounts tied to far-right group Britain First, including one that had been retweeted by Trump. Trump retweeted three inflammatory videos posted by Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen in November, setting off a political firestorm that strained relations between London and Washington.

Sanders defended Trump’s retweets at the time, telling reporters that he shared them to start a conversation about border security and immigration.

Trump disputed a Washington Post story alleging that he considered pulling his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court after Gorsuch privately criticized Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. “I never even wavered and am very proud of him and the job he is doing as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The unnamed sources don’t exist!”

The Washington Post, citing 11 sources familiar with the episode, reported that the comments left Trump fuming at the time, worrying that his nominee would not be “loyal” on the bench and considered pulling his nomination.

The Trump administration formally accused North Korea of creating the WannaCry cyberattack that briefly paralyzed the British health system and placed ransomware on computers in dozens of countries around the world. Homeland security adviser, Thomas P. Bossert, wrote in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal that the conclusion was “based on evidence” that he did not disclose.

Trump tweeted “Together, our task is to strengthen our families, to build up our communities, to serve our citizens, and to celebrate AMERICAN GREATNESS as a shining example to the world….” Reminds me of a bit of Fascism there.

Trump retweeted from Maria Bartiromo [of the Wall Street Journal] “Year One has been nothing short of excellent from an economic standpoint…” Note the “economic standpoint”. Not the rest I’m sure.

Trump tweeted “It will be the BIGGEST TAX CUT and TAX REFORM in the HISTORY of our country!” which was already a false claim.

If you want to know how wacky this right wing administration is, the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] were presented with seven banned words why the White House. On the list: “diversity,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “science-based” and “evidence-based.” As well, they were told to use alternative word or phrases for others. For instance, instead of “evidence-based” or “science-based,” an analyst might say, “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” The CDC did remove some references to sex in previous surveys.

Meanwhile, References to climate change and the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of renewable energy have been removed from several of its web pages, according to an analysis by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. Not surprising news here since Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was making changes to the site right after he got the job. Pruitt’s previous job was Attorney General of Oklahoma and doesn’t believe in climate change.

In a bit of wackiness, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr says his committee is examining the campaign of Green Party 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the US election.

Opposition to the Trump tax bill has grown 10 points since early November, and 55% now oppose it. Just 33% say they favor the GOP’s proposals to reform the nation’s tax code. Two-thirds see the bill as doing more to benefit the wealthy than the middle class (66%, vs. 27% who say it’ll do more to benefit the middle class) and almost four in 10 (37%) say that if the bill becomes law, their own family will be worse off.

More than six in 10 (63%) see the tax bill as leaving Trump and his family better off. Just 5% think it harms the Trump clan and disapproval of Trump’s handling of taxes has risen six points in the last month, to 57%. Still almost three-quarters, 73%, say Trump should release his tax returns for public review, about the same share that said so as his inauguration approached in January.