Can Trump’s presidency get any worse?

Maybe.

Between this past week and the week before, it is probably the worst two week stretch since the Nixon presidency.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison. Cohen was sentenced for eight criminal counts he pleaded guilty to in August. The judge gave him an additional two months for the special counsel charge, to be served concurrently with the US attorney’s New York office term. He has been ordered to surrender on March 6. The judge imposed $500,000 in forfeiture to Cohen, and $1.39 million in restitution.

“I take full responsibility for each act that I pled guilty to: The personal ones to me and those involving the President of the United States of America,” Cohen said. “Recently the President tweeted a statement calling me weak and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying. It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law,” Trump tweeted. Trump was privately seething about Cohen’s sentencing, telling associates that Cohen is a “liar,” according to one administration official. The problem is that Cohen was hired by Trump and Trump is ultimately responsible for anyone he hires.

“He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence,” Trump tweeted about Cohen the week before the sentencing. Will the same be said when he is sentenced because of his multiple lies?

After charges brought on to Cohen, Trump and current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani [we haven’t heard much from him lately] both said there is no collusion with Trump tweeting “Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” And yet, if you look at the evidence, clearly Trump could be involved. But what Trump has said could be illegal – tampering with an investigation related to him.

Then Trump also quoted noted constitutional expert [I’m kidding here] Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera, saying “this is collusion illusion” and “there is nothing impeachable here.”

Not surprising, Trump GOP supporters are downplaying the implications by prosecutors in two crimes committed by Cohen. Either they are saying until Mueller releases all the facts or the fact that the payoffs were done prior to Trump getting elected or that Cohen is a liar.

However while the payoffs were done prior to the election, they may have involved campaign money which is illegal if not listed in the expenses. As well the fact that the payoffs were kept quiet just prior to the election. Interesting that Cohen is a liar now but not a month or so ago.

The owner of the parent company of magazines including the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and In Touch has admitted to engaging in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill” [exclusive rights but not use the story] in order to help Trump become president.

Federal prosecutors revealed they had agreed not to prosecute American Media Inc. for secretly assisting Trump’s campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then intentionally suppressed McDougal’s story until after the election.

Trump tweeted: “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.” If you missed it, twice he used the work “Smocking” instead of “Smoking”. I wouldn’t be surprised if late night talk show hosts or political cartoonists make some comments on this.

But then he said in part 2 of the tweet “So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution….” So Trump is admitting that Stormy Daniels was paid off. Now special counsel Robert Mueller just needs to see if the money came from the campaign. Even if it didn’t, is this enough to be considered some type of election tampering?

Trump lashed out at Comey over testimony he gave to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, accusing the former FBI chief, without evidence, of lying to lawmakers and questioning his inability to recall events related to certain questions. “On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked.”

At least 16 associates of Donald Trump had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign or transition, according to public statements, court filings, and reporting from news outlets. These communications came in the form of face-to-face meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails and video chats.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi privately questioned Trump’s “manhood” after a contentious meeting bout funding his wall at the southern border. She also compared Trump  to a skunk. Vice President Mike pence sat through the whole thing without saying a word.

Pelosi also told members that she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got Trump to take full accountability for the possible partial shutdown. Government funding runs out for about 25% of federal government spending on December 21. “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said.

After the meeting, Pelosi revealed to Democrats that Trump had claimed in their private session that Mexico would pay for the wall — his oft-stated campaign promise that he has abandoned since taking office. Trump said Mexico will pay through the new NAFTA – money that would go to American workers and the economy.

It is now official: Chief of Staff John Kelly will be out of the White House by the end of the year. Trump has announced his final choice in the chief of staff sweepstakes: Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. He will be the “acting” chief of staff even though he is permanent. I guess with the number of people who left the administration, nobody is permanent probably other than family members.

One of the leading potential replacement to Kelly is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. But supposedly because of family commitments, he would only accept the job for a short term. Chris Christie had a meeting for the vacancy be he claimed he didn’t want the job. So why go to the meeting then?

New York Yankees President Randy Levine was reportedly in consideration to become Trump’s chief of staff and is a “wild card” for the post, according to MSNBC.

Trump said this week that he might intervene in the Huawei case [where the Chinese CEO has been held in Canada on a US arrest warrant and caused political problems] if it would help clinch a trade agreement with China, upending U.S. efforts to separate the court proceeding from U.S.-China trade talks and contradicting Canadian officials who said the arrest was not political. China has since arrested two Canadians on most likely bogus charges [in retaliation].

Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for his inauguration, according to sources familiar with the matter. Prosecutors are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence in or access to the new administration.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said, “That doesn’t have anything to do with the President or the first lady.” She’s laying the groundwork to cover Trump from any activity so blame can be laid on the organizers. The committee reported had raised a record-setting $107 million, received much of its funding from wealthy donors who gave $1 million or more.

Trump’s inaugural committee spent funds on hotel rooms and meals at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC and also rented space there at rates negotiated partly by Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. A Saudi-backed veterans’ group booked nearly 500 nights at the hotel in the months after Trump’s inauguration.

The inaugural committee organizers complained to Ivanka Trump that the hotel was attempting to charge $175,000 per day for use of a ballroom and other meeting rooms. That is one heck of an overcharge. So Trump is benefiting financially for the inaugurations with money possibly coming from potential illegal donations to pau for the inauguration.

Trump always claimed his senior staff is “a fine tune machine” but the turnover rate is 62% and that’s more than any “modern” presidency. This includes the most “permanent” Chiefs of Staffs of any modern presidency as well [President Obama had 3 but one was known to be temporary].

During President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said in a statement that “committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office… This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes,” Hatch said. “But it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up. Any other citizen would be prosecuted for these crimes.”

But with evidence of Trump covering up the payouts, “The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.” When reminded that it is not the Democrats, but the Southern District of New York, making the allegations, Hatch said, “I don’t care, all I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.”

Some Democrats are saying they may not be able to impeach him while in office but will get him indicted once he leaves. Of course you’ll have those who said he can’t be impeached because it happened out of office will then say he can’t be indicted for something he may have done in office!

Trump has expressed concern that he could be impeached when Democrats take over the House, said source close to Trump. The source said Trump sees impeachment as a “real possibility.” But Trump isn’t certain it will happen. Trump remains confident at this point that, while he could be impeached in the House, he doesn’t believe he would be convicted in the Senate as the GOP remains in control there.

Trump tweeted “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.” Exactly how would billions be saved? Is there a limited time offer on substandard steel? There is some talk to allow $5 billion over two years but considering the Trump Wall already received $1.6 billion and what exactly has come out of it except to spruce up some walls that are already there.

Trump seized on an apparent terrorist attack in France to promote his border wall, the latest example of Trump using fear to push his political agenda. “Another very bad terror attack in France. We are going to strengthen our borders even more,” Trump tweeted. “Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!” The suspect sought in the attack was born in France.

Trump posted a series of tweets threatening that if Democrats do not provide enough votes to build the wall, “the Military will build the remaining sections.” He did not elaborate on how that would be funded.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker [GOP] plans to offer a measure as soon as Tuesday to rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the first formal response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and an implicit rebuke of Trump’s handling of the killing. This will guarantee result in Trump making some nasty comments about Corker.

The Trump administration is doing everything it can to cut the Affordable Care Act costs by slashing advertising by 90% and cut funding for enrollment assistance by 80%. The average number of people signing up daily on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, for 2019 is down roughly 8% as of December 1 from the same period a year ago.

The Trump administration will reverse an Obama-era coal emissions rule as part of its effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry, just days after a US government report warned that aggressive action is needed to curb greenhouse gases and ease the impact of global warming.

The demonstrations in Paris have erupted into the worst riots France where a movement began as a rebuke of the country’s fuel price hikes and evolved to a broader protest against the cost of living pressures and anger at Macron’s government. And yet Trump blamed the Paris climate accord [which has nothing to do with the demonstrations] as well he claims in a tweet people are “Chanting ‘We Want Trump!'”. Laughable.

The lawyer for four women who claim they were undocumented workers at Trump National Golf Club is calling for state and federal investigations into the Trump Organization’s hiring practices. One claims that managers at the club arranged for fraudulent documents to keep her employed. They don’t believe Trump knew of what was going on. After hired, another one was taken off the club premises to an off-site location and provided with a bogus Social Security card and ID.

Top law enforcement officials pushed back on comments from Trump suggesting the prosecution of a Chinese telecommunications executive from Huawei could be used as leverage in trade negotiations. “What I do, what we do at the Justice Department, is law enforcement. We don’t do trade,” assistant Attorney General John Demers, the department’s top national security official said.

The Trump administration is planning to announce the indictments of multiple hackers suspected of working for a Chinese intelligence service and participating in a long-running espionage campaign targeting the U.S. Additionally, the government is planning to declassify intelligence relating to the breaches, which date back to 2014.

Outgoing US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she used Trump’s “unpredictable” behavior to her advantage in order to “get the job done” as ambassador. “He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and then I’d go back to the ambassadors and say ‘you know, he’s pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far,'” Haley said in an interview.

As if lagging sales in Apple’s new iGadgets are hurting them, Trump is considering widening the tariffs on Chinese-made imports to the US, which could mean new duties on Apple products of between 10 and 25 percent. Trump said the tariffs could impact Apple iPhones and laptops that were made in China, arguing that, “I can make it 10 percent, and people could stand that very easily.”

Trump wants the iPhones to be built in the U.S. If not, he will slap on a 25% tariff. But building them in the U.S. could at as much as 35% to the cost – on a line of phones already faltering because of low sales and high costs to the consumer.

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The two sides of Trump

{Nice with North Korea, nasty with Iran.]

Donald Trump: “When I make promises, I keep them.” [OK, you can get off the floor when you are finish laughing.]

So not surprising, Trump is killing the Iranian nuclear deal. He cited [as some of his excuses] the flawed and dated argument from Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu.

“Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States. America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.” And then “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie,” Trump said. But the Director of National Intelligence, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense have all said in last two months they are complying with the deal.

Iran has stated that the US would suffer if the deal disintegrates. However, short of using nuclear weapons, they can’t do too much of their own. However, leaving the deal could cause oil prices to rise as well as affect other areas of the economy. [Even if the oil prices don’t rise much if any, local gas stations will jack up the price anyways. Gougers.]

At one point Trump said “It didn’t bring calm. It didn’t bring peace.” Of course not, the deal says nothing about Iran stopping buying or using non-nuclear military hardware.

Now there is talk that at least one Sunni Muslim country, Saudi Arabia, who now intend on building their own nuclear missiles. Saudi Arabia and Iran are considered enemies.

Sanctions could return within 90 days against Iran. Companies that deal with Iran [including for an example an $8 billion US deal with Boeing] are at stake. Trouble could hit companies based in other countries who signed the original deal which could cause some further issues. The remainder of the countries that were part of the deal are still trying to work with Iran.

Is Trump playing with the lives of North Korea detainees? Last week, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s so-called lawyer but more like another spokesman who doesn’t know facts, claimed that three Americans detained [or taken hostage] by North Korea will be released that day. Two days later they still weren’t but he Giuliani said “there is a good chance” that three Americans detained in North Korea “will be released over the next several days.”

The question is whether Trump kyboshed the release so they can be released closer to when he is expected to have a meeting with Kim Jun Un in June. So are the three detainees being kept in a North Korean prison [which are probably far from being as nice as a room at the Trump Hotel in Washington] longer than they should? Just so that Trump an show he can make a “deal”? And if anything what is Trump giving up?

White House and State Department officials were still working to verify reports the three Americans had been moved from labor camps to a hotel in Pyongyang.

Trump, by making such a splash of the prisoners’ return, could be accused by critics of exploiting them as props for a presidency in crisis. Alternatively, Kim Jun Un could boast that an American president came to see him – something his father couldn’t do – and maybe use it for propaganda. Even with the three prisoners released, Un could say in North Korean media that Trump begged for their release.

Un has had various high profile American dignitaries come to North Korea before to seek release of American prisoners. Since all the prisoners were arrested and convicted on trumped [errr] up charges, Un could be taking prisoners in exchange of future public appreciation. Un took the hostages in order to release them later and to get rewarded for it. Trump himself thanked Un for the release – but as head of the country, it was probably on his orders to have them arrested.

Even though Trump has claimed there is an agreement for where and when to have his meeting with Un, all bets are off if Trump cancels the meeting.

Trump said at 3 AM, “I think you probably broke the all-time in history television rating for three o’clock in the morning.” Ummm. 3 AM? The administration probably did not notify US citizens when the prisoners would land on US soil. As usual, what ratings? You can’t get any ratings results at the same time you are at the location. There are ratings for TV shows and events that are announced. This isn’t either. Does he thinks this is like reality TV like The Apprentice? Trump has tweeted the word “ratings” 263 times since 2010.

Trump suggested that “angry Democrats” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team could face legal action over alleged “conflicts of interest.” Trump did not provide proof of the alleged conflicts. Trump also suggested that the investigation was being dragged out so it could damage Republicans in the midterm elections.

Mueller’s investigators have questioned a Russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments his company’s US affiliate made to Cohen, after the election. Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of asset manager Renova Group, is an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, and last month the Trump administration placed him on a list of sanctioned Russians for activities including election interference.

The purpose of the payments, which predate the sanctions, and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is unclear. Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti alleged the $500,000 from Vekselberg went into the bank account for Essential Consultants, a shell company that Cohen set up before the election that was used to pay Daniels. Avenatti added that the payments occurred from January to August 2017.

The Russian was questioned as well about $300,000 in political donations by Andrew Intrater, Vekselberg’s American cousin who is the head of Columbus Nova.

AT&T confirmed that it paid President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017 for “insights into understanding the new administration.” At the time, AT&T was seeking government approval for its acquisition of Time Warner.  A document released by Avenatti stated that “Essential received $200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T.”

Almost like a lobbyist, Cohen has been advertising him as the man who has Trump’s ear by saying “I’m the guy you should hire. I’m closest to the President. I’m his personal lawyer.” This is how over a period of time, he pulled in over $4.4 million from AT&T, Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries, and others. Many were looking for supposedly information about Trump and his administration.

Even after he wasn’t offered a job in Trump’s administration after inauguration day or since, he nevertheless continued to portray himself as Trump’s go-to guy.

AT&T has claimed the company only paid Cohen to gain “insights” into Trump and that there was no legal or lobbying work. However, if it went farther than that, then there could be some legal issues. AT&T said they wish they didn’t do it.

As for Novartis, Cohen received $400,000 just before dinner Trump reportedly had with a Novartis executive in Davos, Switzerland. That could raise a few red flags. Novartis has regrets now.

Gina Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination as Trump’s pick to head the CIA after some White House officials raised concerns with her about her ability to get confirmed but she agreed to continue with her nomination. The White House has been concerned about her past involvement with the CIA’s controversial interrogation program.

Trump tweeted regarding Haspel “There is nobody even close to run the CIA!” And there is a possibility she won’t be approved!

“Our administration has provided more than a million documents; we’ve fully cooperated in it, and in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up,” Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview. Can you say “obstruction of justice”? Two Republican senators replied that Pence has no decision making in the matter.

White House chief of staff John Kelly said he believes the vast majority of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border into the US are “… not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society” because they are poorly educated.

At a rally, Trump claimed President Obama paid $1.8 billion for hostages from North Korea while he paid nothing. Where did he get that amount from? He didn’t say [as usual].

Trump commented that he would like to actually withdrawal the right for some journalists from reporting at the White House. Of course these are those who [in Trump’s mind] are anti-Trump. Of course this goes against the First Amendment.

Rudy Giuliani continues to be possibly big mistake in hiring when he left open the possibility that Cohen might have doled out payments like the one he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to other women. When asked if there were other women paid, Giuliani said “I would think if it was necessary, yes.”

A reminder that Trump has also been accused by at least 15 women of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and lewd behavior. Trump has denied all the allegations, and at one point during the 2016 campaign, threatened to sue his accusers, although he has yet to do so.

Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen got into a lengthy, heated argument during a Cabinet meeting focused on immigration. Trump was furious with Nielsen, telling her he didn’t think she was doing enough to secure the border. Nielsen told colleagues she was close to resigning after the incident.

The Trump administration has decided to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, a policy that could result in the separation of far more parents from their children at the border. The move would also mean that even if immigrants caught at the border illegally have valid asylum claims, they could still end up with federal criminal convictions on their record regardless of whether a judge finds they have a right to live and stay in the US.

At least eight alt-right website domain names were registered to Columbus Nova, the company that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Within hours of assuming his new post, Trump appointed Richard Grenell triggered harsh criticism in Germany when he said “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” The timing and tone struck some German politicians, journalists and business executives as a threat, offensive and inappropriate. The criticism was echoed by top officials elsewhere in Europe including Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister. Grenell claimed this was the “exact language” that the White House told him to use.

Trump continues to go after Amazon because he claims that the US Postal Service got a bad deal for shipping Amazon packages. Problem is that the deal hasn’t been publically disclosed [if it can be]. So we can assume that Trump is over blowing another issue. That and he dislikes Amazon owner Jeff Bezos who owns The Washington Post who aren’t a fan of Trump.

Trump’s luxury golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, has banned the sale of Irn-Bru on the premises. The ban came to light after guests asked for Scotland’s favourite non-alcoholic beverage to be supplied at an event but were refused because staff were concerned about potential spills.

Trump tweeted “Thought he [James Comey] was terrible until I fired him!” So Comey was great after he was fired?

Trump urged voters in West Virginia to reject controversial Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship in the state’s primary. Blankenship’s campaign — from its nativist tendencies to its use of conspiracy theories — takes many cues from the President’s 2016 playbook.

Blankenship is a former CEO of Massey Energy and who until recently was serving a year-long sentence for a misdemeanor conviction over his involvement in the deadliest US mine explosion in four decades. But Democrats have also tried to boost Blankenship. A super PAC linked to Democrats has been running ads in West Virginia attacking the two other Republicans nominated for weeks. In the end Blankenship came in third.

Ailing Senator John McCain is said to requested that Trump should not attend his funeral. He also has requested that George W Bush and Barrack Obama to deliver eulogies.  Wonder if Trump will comment about it on Twitter. Oh he probably will.

Trump tweeted “Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!” Wow! All 5! Does that mean ISIS has no leadership? Not. Resolve Army Col. Ryan Dillon tweeted originally “5 key” – not “5 Most Wanted”. So Trump blows things out of proportions again. #FakeNews

Trump told reporters “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it” when asked if he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement in the warming of relations with North Korea, the only prize he wants is a victory for the world. Wait until there is actually what could be described as peace before claiming your prize! In the meantime, is he forgetting Iran? He just killed a nuclear deal which has heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Could be something, or nothing. According to Senator Tim Kaine, the 4 American soldiers killed in Niger in 2017 were at least partially on an unauthorized mission when they were ambushed and killed by ISIS in a village. They were searching for a high value target, a mission they were not authorized, trained or equipped to conduct. They later reverted to an advisory capacity with the Nigerien forces they were working with.

 

Legal issue and bad advisors plague Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the things Trump said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fired or resigned? In this WH, nobody knows

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has repeatedly insisted that the White House fired him from his job at the department. The White House says Shulkin resigned. If he resigned, the White House should have his resignation letter.

When Donald Trump announced on Twitter last week that Shulkin would depart the agency and that a Defense Department official, Robert Wilkie, would serve as acting secretary, he side-stepped Shulkin’s deputy, Thomas Bowman, who was next in the line of succession. Given the lengthy process for Senate confirmation, Wilkie could serve in an interim capacity for months should Wilkes want the job permanently.

Trump nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to become the VA’s next secretary, but lawmakers and veterans’ groups have raised questions about whether or not he has the right experience to lead the government’s second largest bureaucracy. [Will the chief janitor at the White House be the next secretary in charge of infrastructure?] There are allegations about nominee Jackson’s questionable behavior including excessive drinking [even on the job], overprescribing drugs and a “toxic” work environment under his leadership. Hearings into Jackson’s appointment has been delayed because of the allegations.

Jackson drunkenly banged on a woman’s hotel door on an overseas trip and was known as “the candy man” inside the White House, according to a senator.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders defended Jackson’s experience calling him a “very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and the medical community.” Sanders suggested that Jackson’s current position as the White House physician meant that he had been more thoroughly vetted than other Cabinet nominees.

But in the end, Jackson withdrew his nomination. Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as “completely false and fabricated.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee have voted against Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state which would lead the committee to report out his nomination without a favorable recommendation. Pompeo may still have enough votes to barely get approved for the position as one Democrat had agreed to vote in his favor.

Trump tweeted “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before.” Hello. There is something called democracy. What Trump is saying is vote for someone who may or may not be appropriate for the job.

Remember the individual who as seeking some legal job in the government and yet never tried a case or knew some basic terminology?

Trump’s pick to replace Pompeo leading the CIA, Gina Haspel, isn’t scheduled to have her confirmation hearing until May 9, but late last week the agency declassified an internal memo that absolves Haspel of responsibility for destroying videotapes showing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005, an issue that’s been a key sticking point for senators weighing her confirmation.

In the end, the Senate approved Pompeo’s nomination as the next secretary of state on Thursday, installing the former CIA Director as the nation’s top diplomat at a time when several high stakes negotiations are underway around the globe. With a 57-42 vote, Trump can’t whine about the lack of Democrats approving. Just days before Trump tweeted [of course] “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people….”

Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations. Trump said the Moscow trip was so quick that his head never hit a pillow — even for one night.

Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas in the morning of November 8, 2014 and landed at Vnukovo airport early morning. He attended a birthday part of Miss Universe pageant’s host and developer Aras Agalarov followed by the pageant and after-party. Trump even tweeted “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place!”

Trump acknowledged for the first time that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is representing him with regards to legal matters involving Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump. The revelation came after Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in the matter. Cohen filed court papers indicating he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the Daniels case. The case has been put on hold for 90 days.

Trump distanced himself from his personal attorney, whom Trump said has overseen “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. If so, the President may have inadvertently boosted the arguments of prosecutors who have said that communications between the two men shouldn’t be considered confidential under attorney-client privilege provisions.

Prosecutors have argued in federal court that because Cohen has few clients and has done little legal work, there wouldn’t be a lot of privileged information in documents seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Trump insists he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling but “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration. Part of chief of staff John Kelly’s job was to restrict who Trump contacts and who contacts him. Now by using his cell phone, he is bypassing Kelly. Maybe even to push Kelly out or at least Trump doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.

Trump said North Korean dictator “Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing.” The same man he berated by calling him “Little Rocket Man”. Honorable? Him and his father have consistently broke deals that were approved by all parties. Trump has threatened to deliver “fire and fury” upon North Korea and taunted Kim Jung Un on Twitter that his nuclear “button” was larger than the one in Pyongyang.

Sanders said that the US goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would probably accept not developing any new nuclear weapons but not accept losing the weapons they currently have.

Republicans won the special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, but once again Democrats have over performed in a deep red district, in another sign the national environment is in the their favor. Republican Debbie Lesko won over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni by about a 5-point margin. But in 2016, Trump won by a 21 point margin.

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Republican Debbie Lesko on her big win in the Special Election for Arizona House seat. Debbie will do a Great Job! Press is so silent.” Press wasn’t silent – more like Lesko was expected to win in a safe seat. Was only a big win because she could of easily lost if there was a scandal [like Roy Moore] but she was clean.

Trump tweeted ” Arizona, please get out today and vote @DebbieLesko for Congress in #AZ08. Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime. Great on the Military….” That sounds like what he wants, not what she is running for. Surprised no Trump Wall mentioned or it would be obvious it was what he wants.

Is Trump plagiarizing himself? In another tweet, he said “@MarshaBlackburn is a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.” Look at the previous tweet quote.

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must resume DACA, a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. It would also require the administration to accept requests from first-time applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

After Kanye West launched an ongoing series of tweets about his admiration of Donald Trump calling him “my brother”, he sort of retracted by saying “I don’t agree with everything Trump does.” However, he did get his hat signed. Trump then tweeted “Kanye West has performed a great service to the Black Community.” Like what service?

Trump tweeted “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” Maybe either because of your comments or the fact that sporting events and politics shouldn’t mix or maybe because soccer [football] is bigger elsewhere.

Trump tweeted “Kim Strassel of the WSJ just said, after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel? There’s no there there.’ Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!” Are they [practicing] lawyers? Probably just Trump loving reporters.

Trump admitted on Fox News that he’s been too busy to get a birthday gift for his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who turned 48 years old this week. Trump added that he did get the first lady “a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers.” [Of course actually bought by someone else. Did he actually pay?]

Trump tweeted “I would rather deal just with France. The [European] Union is very tough for us. They have trade barriers that are unacceptable.” Is there anything acceptable to him?

As part of the fallout from Trump’s tariff increases on steel and aluminum, prices for everything from razor blades to pop/soda will be increasing up to 30% this year.

A former Cambridge Analytica director claims that during the 2016 election campaign, the company had exclusive access to user data from breitbart.com – former chief of staff Stephen Bannon’s web site.

The Washington Post reported that only two companies still sell Trump-branded products, down from 19 listed by Trump in 2015. A Trump cologne, one of his few remaining items, costs $9.99 an ounce, marked down from $42.

Canadian singer Shania Twain “apologize to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian” where she said she would of voted for Trump if she was an American.

“I can die happy now with Trump Job performance,” stated Mary Matalin and tweeted by Trump. “A great overall President, stunning!” Of course she works with the Republican Party. If he was doing so well, wouldn’t these comments be more often?

Comey vs Trump, round 2

Former FBI Director, James Comey, cited “some evidence of obstruction of justice” in Trump’s actions and speculated that Russians might have dirt on Donald Trump. Does that include the “Pee Tape”?

Trump said in a tweet that Comey was not fired because of the Russia investigation — a statement directly at odds with his own comments on Comey’s dismissal. However, Trump had told NBC News last year that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey saying “regardless of (Rosenstein’s) recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

Trump tweeted “Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, [Andrew] McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!” Wonder how he got his information and which crimes for which Comey hasn’t been arrested for. He also tweeted that Comey “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” I will like to see how that is measured.

Trump tweeted “Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!” Of course it makes no sense. You don’t investigate your future boss in public just so that you can get yourself a job with her.

Counselor to Trump, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, seems to be pushing her vision that FBI is a mess with Comey, McCabe and basically the rest of the FBI.

Interesting to note that Sanders said in November 2016 “When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing.” Then 15 months later she said “Former FBI Director Comey is a disgraced hack and a liar.” So she’s a loser like her boss. Whom would of through that.

A recent ABC News poll showed that Americans found Comey more believable than Trump, by a margin of 48% to 32%. If the fierce campaign by Trump world to discredit the former FBI director’s book fails to shift that number, it could suggest that the President is in for lasting political damage.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t believe Trump will fire special counsel Robert Mueller, adding he doesn’t want legislation on the issue. A bipartisan group introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which protects Mueller, including ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official. Several GOP senators saying the bill is unconstitutional. Others said it’s simply not good politics to try and tell Trump what to do.

Trump’s personal attorney Cohen used the same Delaware limited liability company to facilitate payments to two women. Essential Consultants LLC was used for the partial payment of a $250,000 fee paid to Cohen for negotiating a non-disclosure agreement with a former Playboy model who claimed she was impregnated by Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The former Playboy model’s lawyer, Keith Davidson, is also represented former adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Essential Consultants was also used to pay $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to prevent her from speaking publicly about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. It was partly these payments that led authorities to raid Cohen’s home, office and hotel.

In 2013, Cohen also tamped down a developing US Weekly magazine story about an alleged affair between Donald Trump Jr., who was a judge on his father’s NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice,” and Aubrey O’Day, a contestant on the show.

A judge ordered Cohen’s attorney to reveal Cohen’s third client [aside from Trump and Broidy] which is Fox News anchor Sean Hannity.

Cohen’s lawyers have called the raid “completely unprecedented” and asked the judge to let their lawyers review the documents or put in place a special master to comb through the seized material and separate communications that should be protected by attorney client privilege. Sounding Trump-ish the lawyers said “This is perhaps the most highly publicized search warrant in the history of recent American criminal jurisprudence….”

After Cohen was forced to reveal that Fox host Sean Hannity was his third client, weirdly, Hannity explicitly stated that he was never represented by nor had he ever retained Cohen and implied that his own exchanges with Cohen did not entail the silencing of any alleged sexual partner.

To get the search warrant in the first place for Cohen’s places, the government had to have convinced the court that Cohen and his so-called clients were not actually in an attorney-client relationship, and therefore their conversations were not privileged. Hannity isn’t asserting the privilege, so Cohen lacks any basis not to disclose the information or to prevent the government from looking at any communications between himself and Hannity.

The Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russia, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and several associates of Trump alleging a grand racketeering, hacking and fraudulent conspiracy that harmed Democrats through WikiLeaks’ publication of internal party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Those named in the lawsuit include several top Trump advisers who attended the now-infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and others.

The 66-page lawsuit lays out how the Trumps curried favor in Russia through their family business, and then Russia allegedly worked with Trump advisers before the presidential election to disseminate the spoils from a cyberattack of the DNC.

Trump tweeted “So funny, the Democrats have sued the Republicans for Winning.” Am I missing something. Last I checked he won the last election. In the past, Trump has referenced the DNC’s computer servers in an attempt to raise questions over Democrats’ claims that Russians hacked DNC computer systems in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Trump tweeted “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!” Well, don’t raise the rates! But just days before, the Treasury Department published a report saying that no US trading partner is manipulating its exchange rate. Just so happens Trump is at odds with both countries recently.

Before the presidential election, Trump vowed to label China a currency manipulator on Day 1 of his administration. But he’s repeatedly backed away from that promise. In May 2017, in fact, he said China had stopped manipulating its currency, and he personally took the credit.

In the continuing tit-for-tat trade war, China’s Commerce Ministry said that customs officers will charge importers a fee of about 179% on US sorghum after an investigation found the shipments were unfairly subsidized and damaging Chinese producers. Sorghum is a grain that is used to feed livestock and make a liquor that’s very popular with Chinese drinkers. This will affect Kansas, a state that backs Trump. China’s imports of the crop were worth about $960 million last year.

After The US, France and the UK’s joint mission to bomb chemical factories and some military installations in Syria, Trump tweeted “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” We will see if it is really accomplished when [and if] Syria uses chemical weapons soon. George W. Bush said mission accomplished and yet the US is still in Iraq.

The UK has accused Syria and Russia of preventing independent chemical weapons experts [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] from entering the city of Douma, hit by a suspected gas attack that Western leaders have blamed on the Syrian government. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the OPCW team’s arrival was hampered by the weekend air strikes. If he called the accusations “groundless”, then why would he stop OPCW from entering the area to prove that he is right – unless Syria or Russia is removing evidence.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, got ahead of Trump’s decision-making when she hit the Sunday talk show circuit and said the US would level new sanctions the next day targeting Russian companies that facilitated the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program. The sanctions have yet to come. After a meeting a couple of days prior, others also thought there would be more sanctions announced in the coming days but Haley did not clear her talking points about the sanctions with other administration officials.

After Nikki Haley announced that more sanctions were coming to Russia and the Trump administration said that wasn’t true, Trump personally made the decision to abandon plans to impose more sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria’s chemical weapons attack on civilians. The Trump administration informed the Russian government there won’t be an additional round of sanctions.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s comment that “there might have been some momentary confusion” from the UN ambassador prompted a sharp rebuttal where Haley said “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow took back the comment. But after being one of the few bright spots in administration, whether this drops her in Trump’s rankings of those he can trust and work with.

Interesting that in a conversation between Trump and Vladimir Poutine, Poutine says that Russia has some of the most beautiful hookers. Why would that come up unless Poutine offered or Trump asked?

“If I think that if it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful we’re not going to go. If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful I will respectfully leave the meeting,” said Trump at a news conference when asked about his impending meeting with Kim Jun Un. His way of having a back door in case he decides not to have the meeting.

Trump tweeted “While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.” Wondering if he knows that the WTO is not a trading pact and WTO may have been bad for the US only because the US slams countries with ridiculous tariffs only to see the WTO say it isn’t right. Didn’t he recently say he wanted to get back into the TPP?

Trump was upset that the US had expelled 60 Russian diplomats, believing the US would match the number of diplomats expelled by individual European countries — not as a whole. Last year he spoke in Pennsylvania during the same event.

The Trump campaign announced that he will hold a campaign rally in Washington Township in Michigan on April 28 while the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will be going on in Washington.

Michael Catanzaro, adviser for energy and environmental policy, will be returning to the law and lobbying firm where he previously worked. Catanzaro had headed domestic energy issues for the White House’s National Economic Council.

Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Victor Joseph reportedly sent an email instructing Major Crimes detectives to bring full uniforms and riot gear to work “until further notice” should Trump fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A group has called for a “Nobody is Above the Law” rally in Pittsburgh if Mueller gets fired.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passes away. And what does Trump tweet about? Comey, someone who he says never existed [attacked Stormy Daniels], and sanctuary cities in California. Not a condolence to the family. But he did comment verbally. In a White House statement “To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend”. Surprised? Added security? 3 former Presidents will be there.

Trump finally landed new personal lawyers in the newly enlisted lawyers from the firm Spears & Imes in New York. As well, Rudy Giuliani is joining Trump’s personal legal team according to Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow but his role on the legal team will be “limited.” Giuliani said his focus will be on interfacing with special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia probe.

In Congress, those leaving office without a clear next political step tend to come from places where Trump is less popular. On the flip side, Republicans are more likely to leave the House to seek higher office if Trump was more popular in their districts. So far, twenty-five Republicans have announced they will retire and leave Congress and 13 have announced they will leave Congress to run for another office.

Mike Pence’s pick for his national security adviser, Jon Lerner, has withdrawn after his hiring created tensions in the administration. There was a report that Trump attempted to block Pence from hiring Lerner because of his “never Trump” views.

Trump tweeted “Just hit 50% in the Rasmussen Poll, much higher than President Obama at same point.” Except Rasmussen is the least reliable poll and a right wing leaning pollster. He’s happy at 50%?

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claims that “I’m a geologist… A geologist will tell you there is little, if any, oil and gas.” In his autobiography, Zinke wrote that he majored in geology at the University of Oregon. But Zinke, however, has never held a job as a geologist.

Several geologists have flagged his comments as disingenuous, saying that someone with a 34-year-old degree who never worked in the field is not considered a geologist. He is not a member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists or the Association of State Boards of Geologists.

The Senate recently passed a banking bill that would shield large regional banks from tough scrutiny that requires them to sit on extra cash to weather the next financial storm. Regional banks could reward shareholders with up to $53 billion if Congress rolls back Dodd-Frank, which refers to a comprehensive and complicated piece of financial regulation born out of the Great Recession of 2008.

More than one-fifth of the $3.9 million that President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign has spent this year has gone to legal fees, the campaign’s latest quarterly Federal Election Commission filing shows. Trump’s campaign raised $10.1 million in 2018’s first three months and has $28.3 million in the bank.

The campaign spent another $58,000 on costs listed as “rent” divided between three recipients: Trump Plaza, Trump Restaurants and Trump Tower. $58,000. That’s it?

 

Another firing, more lies and half truths

Looks like we will go another week with another firing by Donald Trump.

Trump fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin by tweet in the wake of a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency, and nominated White House doctor Ronny Jackson to lead the agency. Well at least Shulkin was told by Chief of Staff John Kelly before Trump tweeted that he was fired. In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as “highly trained and qualified.” That is probably code for “I found someone who will do what I say and not cause problems.”

But not surprising a major veterans’ organization expressed concern over Shulkin’s dismissal and Trump’s intention to nominate Jackson, whom they worried lacked experience to run the huge department.

Just this past week, Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow announced that Joe diGenova and his wife [and lawyer] Victoria Toensing, would be joining the team. Not even a week late, both will not, citing “conflicts”. diGenova  is a former US attorney for the District of Columbia. Just 4 days after, the two lawyers met with Trump. So what changed? Hmmmm. Some members of Trump’s legal team had opposed their hiring.

Trump tweeted “Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country – and I am very happy with my existing team.” Ummm. Wouldn’t that be the same for any law firm. He’s happy with his team even though John Dowd left recently and he was obviously looking as other lawyers declined jobs.

Trump tweeted “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.” Yup all those lawyers who pick up clients at hospitals looking for big pay days.

Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the US identified as intelligence agents and the closure of a Russian consulate in Seattle in response to Russia’s alleged use of a nerve agent in the United Kingdom. Trump announced it only after UK and other European countries were expelling diplomats as well. Better late than never! Not surprising, the Russian expelled 60 American diplomats.

White House spokesperson Sara “Simpleton” Sanders said that the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle was tied to the consulate’s “proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing.”

A day after reports suggested Trump has it in for Amazon, the U.S. president added gasoline to the fire on Thursday, tweeting that the company is dodging its tax obligations.

Trump tweeted ” Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.).” They actually pay their share of taxes and while they get a bulk discount from the USPS, they are still paying. Unsure what “loss” he is referring to. In fact, online shipping is the one bright spot for the USPS.

Amazon’s annual report shows the company set aside $769 million US to pay various income taxes for fiscal 2017. Amazon’s tax bill next year is likely to be even smaller: the company admits it expects to book a massive $789 million tax break this year as a result of the tax overhaul package Trump signed at the end of last year.

If Amazon doesn’t use the USPS, they would be using another courier to deliver their packages and it is a big business for any company that works with them. Amazon – or more specifically its CEO Jeff Bezos — is a frequent target of Trump. Amazon founder Bezos also owns the Washington Post, one of the newspapers that has been most critical of Trump’s administration’s moves.

Then Trump tweeted “…it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars.” Has he ever heard of volume discounts? And knowing him, he doesn’t even know how much the USPS “loses”. Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.”….does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a ‘lobbyist’ and should so REGISTER,” tweeted Trump. Will Fox News register then? Does he know the definition of a lobbyist [let alone freedom of the press].

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not naming a new special counsel to investigate Republican-driven accusations against the FBI — at least for now. Instead, Sessions revealed that Utah’s top federal prosecutor, John Huber, is looking into allegations that the FBI abused its powers in surveilling a former Trump campaign adviser, and claims that more should have been done to investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear energy agency. If a special counsel was named, it could be a tit for tat when the next Democrat administration is in office. They could have a lot to investigate with this administration.

“Our children are dying! Trump is golfing!” Those seven words, which appeared on one of the thousands of signs at the recent “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, succinctly summed up the sentiment of so many. Trump’s motorcade driving him to play golf at his country club reportedly took a different route so that Trump would not see the local “March for Our Lives” protesters.

Yet Trump has not tweeted one single tweet about the young people, and their adult allies, who took to the streets in Washington and in other cities at hundreds of sister rallies to demand action on gun violence.

Trump has privately floated the idea of funding construction of a border wall with Mexico through the US military budget in conversations with advisers. It was not immediately clear how serious Trump was about pursuing this option, but the move would likely face steep hurdles with appropriators in Congress. Trump has said he would seek that payment in the form of a refund from Mexico, either through trade negotiations, remittance payments or other means.

Congressional budgeting is done with very specific instructions for how dollar amounts are spent. Any repurposing of funds requires express congressional approval, which Trump is unlikely to get. Trumps other idea to fund the wall is increasing fees that a person has to pay when they cross the border from Mexico into the United States. But that would take a long time to amass a decent fund.

He tweeted this excuse “Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense.” Trump saw the increased funding for the military as a reason it could afford to foot the bill for the border wall.

The Trump administration has added to the 2020 Census a question regarding citizenship which could penalize immigrants and threaten civil rights. Now progressives, states and civil rights advocates are preparing a flurry of legal challenges against it. California is fighting it.

Not to be outdone, the Trump administration are suing California because of its sanctuary status.

Federal revenue is declining because of Trump’s tax cuts, so the government needs to borrow more to make ends meet. At the same time, Washington’s borrowing costs have climbed rapidly in recent months. The government plans to sell about $294 billion of debt, according to the Treasury Department. That’s the highest for a week since the record set during the 2008 financial crisis.

Oh jeez. Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway signaled she’d be open to taking the White House communications director job, in a marked departure from her earlier comments on the job. But within the past month she said “I’ve been offered that job many times, and no, I work on policy here at the White House.”

Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit for defamation against Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. This is in additional move in an ongoing suit by Daniels against Cohen, Trump and the limited liability company Cohen has said he established to facilitate a payment to Daniels ahead of the presidential election. “It was reasonably understood Mr. Cohen meant to convey that Ms. (Stephanie) Clifford is a liar,” the complaint reads, referencing Daniels’ real name. A friend of Daniels, Alana Evans, also plans on suing Cohen, for defamation.

Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. A group of advisors to then President-elect Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands.

The Council of Energy Resource Tribes, a tribal energy consortium, estimated in 2009 that Indian energy resources are worth about $1.5 trillion. In 2008, the Bureau of Indian Affairs testified before Congress that reservations contained about 20 percent of untapped oil and gas reserves in the U.S.

Trump tweeted “…. I think President Trump was right when….” Why does he like using third person in his tweets? Is he a Jekyll and Hyde person?

Even after 14 months in office, Trump only amassed 49 million followers on Twitter. A “retired” Barack Obama has 101 million.

There are about 265 million privately-owned guns in America. But half of those guns are owned by only 3 per cent of the population.

Another two resignations, more scandals, typical Trump week

National security adviser H.R. McMaster has resigned [did he really?] and will be replaced by former US ambassador and Fox News analyst John Bolton. McMaster claims he is leaving the military and retiring from public service. Bolton’s hard edged, hawkish views on issues like North Korea, Iraq and Syria make him a controversial pick.

As recently as March 8, the White House was denying reports that McMaster was on his way out, with White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declaring on “Fox & Friends” that “General McMaster’s not going anywhere.” The Pentagon had been quietly looking to see if there is a four-star military job suited for McMaster.

Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, has resigned from his personal legal team handling the response to the Russia investigation. Dowd, who has urged Trump to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and resist attacking him publicly, resigned as his disagreements with Trump intensified and Trump stepped up his attacks on the special counsel.

At least four defense attorneys at major law firms were approached to join Trump’s legal team in recent weeks. This includes a former US Solicitor General and 2 lawyers that have worked for previous presidents. All turned Trump down, for various reasons, including concern that the President doesn’t listen to his lawyers and that their law firms represented other clients that would pose conflicts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he received “assurances” that Trump is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. “The special counsel should be free to follow through with his investigation to its completion without interference,” Ryan said during a House GOP leadership news conference on Capitol Hill. “Absolutely, I am confident that he will be allowed to do that.”

But Trump’s approach to the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as his rhetoric and his legal team have begun to reflect an increased focus on winning the fight for public opinion rather than cooperating with the actual probe. This include tweets like “Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump tweeted of the special counsel investigation. “”Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?” Except Mueller himself and Mueller’s boss [Rod Rosenstein] are both Republicans. Unsure about those under Mueller but there are more than 13.

Trump admitted that a majority of Americans may not be ready to support the death penalty for “the really bad pushers and abusers.” “It’s possible,” Trump said. “It’s possible that our country is not ready for that and I can understand it, maybe. Although personally I can’t understand that.” He added: “I think unless you do that, unless you have really, really powerful penalties led by the death penalty for the really bad pushers and abusers, we are going to get nowhere.” Maybe the pushers, but abusers?

Trump said his administration would be addressing the problem of overprescribing of opioids, adding that the Department of Justice is looking “very seriously” into bringing litigation against drug companies. “We’ll ensure opioid addiction is not subsidized by the American tax payer.” As if people are getting their opiods exclusively from drug companies.

Trump, who as a candidate used the Clinton Foundation to slam his opponent Hillary Clinton, heralded an opioid program backed by the Clinton family foundation. Trump touted the work of Adapt Pharma, a program that makes Narcan — a type of drug that can save someone who is overdosing on opioids — more available in colleges and universities. The program was made possible in 2017 because of a partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

Maybe a bit tongue and cheek, Chelsea Clinton, someone who has been critical of Trump throughout his administration, thanked the President for mentioning the effort.

Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government open until September, then excoriated Congress for passing the plan in the first place. “I said to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said. And yet we know how much we take his word for. Right? He had threatened a veto early. More Fake Presidential News.

In a post bill signing conference/speech, Trump also called on Congress to give him a “line item veto” for all government spending bills, echoing a desire expressed by previous presidents who lamented parts of congressional legislation. He also called on Congress to get rid of the filibuster and “go to 51 votes in the Senate” in order to have “success” in Congress.

The Supreme Court has previously found that the line-item veto violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution, which says the President does not have the power to unilaterally amend or repeal legislation (Clinton v. City of New York). Most senators oppose giving up the filibuster rule, which was designed to ensure the minority party has some say in the legislative process.

During his speech, Trump argued that Democrats have stood in the way of DACA recipients gaining permanent legal status, while casting Republicans as would-be saviors. “The Democrats fought us, they just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill.” Will anyone believe him?

A $#.6 billion cut in spending offered by Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was chopped from the final bill.

Trump lamented the “ridiculous situation that took place over the last week,” saying the bill was quickly put together and lawmakers were given little time to read through it. At 2300 pages, I doubt it but it would be quite a read. Then again, the government would of shut down after today. Who’s to blame there? I thought he was commenting about the many things that happened in his administration. Scandals, resignations [really firings, right?], etc.

Trump tweeted “Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming.” $1.6 billion doesn’t go to [sic] far when building the Trump Wall. With the probably corruption in building the mess, expect just a few hundred feet if lucky.

Trump claimed during his speech that the stock markets were doing well. Unsure which stock market he was looking at as the Dow Jones dropped 425 that day. The market sold off after Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on about $50 billion of Chinese imports to retaliate for theft of intellectual property. 1100 points were lost in two days in the Dow Jones. The worry is that a tit-for-tat escalation between the two largest economies in the world will ruin the solid economic backdrop

After saying that Canada and Mexico received exemptions for any tariffs, the administration says that tariffs will be imposed on May 1st, if the NAFTA deal is not signed by then. No one is really surprised that Trump changed his mind…. again. The European Union, Argentina, Brazil, South Korea and Australia will not be subject to the trade penalties with [so far] no strings attached.

Meanwhile it looks like Trump is caving in again as he had thrown out the requirement that all vehicles sold in the US must have 50% or more American content. With that gone, an updated NAFTA agree is more likely – assuming Trump drops removing Article 19 [which is the trade arbitration – US has lost every time to Canada].

Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to Trump’s campaign, reportedly gained access to information about 50 million Facebook users. The data was collected by a professor for academic purposes in accordance with Facebook rules, the company said. But then the information was transferred to third parties, including Cambridge Analytica. The transfer violated Facebook policies.

One of the first uses of a trove of Facebook data on tens of millions of Americans that has thrown Facebook and Cambridge Analytica into crisis was in 2014 by a super PAC run by John Bolton, Trump’s new national security adviser.

A former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who allegedly had a nine-month affair with Trump is suing the company that kept her original account from publication. Shortly before the presidential election, American Media Inc., the company that owns The National Enquirer, paid $150,000 to McDougal, but did not run her story in a tabloid maneuver known as “catch and kill.” The contract did not require the Enquirer to run the story and required McDougal’s silence. American Media is owned by a major Trump supporter.

The Trump administration has offered a two-and-a-half-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. In exchange, the Trump administration wants $25 billion for the proposed Trump Wall with Mexico and other security measures. Democrats say for that amount, DACA recipients and people who might qualify for the program must get more: a chance at citizenship.

Trump initially didn’t congratulate Vladimir Poutine after his landslide election “win”. Poutine spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that maybe Trump’s schedule didn’t allow it and suggested he might call later. Maybe he’s too busy tweeting rants against Robert Mueller and doesn’t have time to congratulate Poutine in a tweet.

The White House said that it is “not surprised by the outcome” of Sunday’s election, and that no congratulatory call was planned. That quote sounds interesting. Trump did contact Poutine later and quite a few Republicans were upset that he did so – especially when not bringing up the subject of the election meddling or the fact that Poutine’s election win was suspicious.

Trump tweeted “I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him.” The difference was 6 years ago, Vladimir Poutine wasn’t turning into a corrupt dictator who has amassed billions that should of gone to the people and his government wasn’t known to be involved in hacking US elections.

Trump was infuriated after it quickly leaked that he had been directly instructed by his national security advisers in briefing materials not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent election victory during their call. Warnings from multiple national security advisers and briefing materials that said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” was included.

Trump will hire an attorney to join his personal legal team who has alleged that he is being framed by a group of FBI and Justice Department officials. Former US Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining the legal team. This comes two months after DiGenova appeared on Fox News to allege that FBI and Justice Department officials carried out “a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.”

Wondering if fired Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will launch a lawsuit in case he can’t get his pension – although it sounds like he has had at least two offers from the Democrats to work at a federal agency [any that can have him] for at least a couple of days.

After McCabe’s firing, there is still rumbling that Robert Mueller will be next. Trump gloated in tweets at McCabe and then came around to attack Mueller and his Russian investigation. But senior Republics have warned him that firing Mueller will cross the line and probably open a constitutional crisis. It would be “the beginning of the end of (Donald Trump’s) presidency,” predicted South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Trump said Rick Saccone lost the Pennsylvania special election, despite the fact that he has not yet conceded the race. “We’re 5-0 and then we lost by 300 votes the other night, right? 300 out of 200-twenty-some-odd-thousand votes.” He said in a speech – but Saccone lost by 700.

Former FBI director James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” won’t be released until April 17 but is already a number one best seller.

A long-time Fox News analyst, Ralph Peters, sharply criticized the network, denouncing the outlet as a “propaganda machine” devoted to Trump, and saying that it was “wittingly harming our system of government for profit,” in a stunning internal email announcing his exit from the company.