Trump on tour (part 1)

Donald Trump capped off his tumultuous two-day visit at NATO headquarters by boldly declaring that all NATO members agreed to increase their defense spending after he told them he was “extremely unhappy.” Trump came up empty when pressed to detail the new financial commitments he had secured, offering only that member countries “agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly” and pointing to spending increases over the last year.

Trump claimed that all countries said that all the countries have agreed to reach 2% before the 2024 deadline. Of course he is giving himself credit for this. Problem is that the other countries did not agree on reaching the target before 2024. He called himself in a hasty called news conference “stable genius”.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “There was a communiqué released yesterday it was very detailed and I invite you to read it … It shows the measures approved by all the member states. This communiqué is clear, it reaffirms a commitment to 2% in 2024. That is all.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said spending will go up slowly over the next few years to reach at or near 2% GDP by the deadline.

Meanwhile Trump said that “everybody in that (NATO) room got along”. And yet Germany’s Angela Merkel wasn’t happy with Trump’s comments about her country and others when Trump called them “delinquents” for not paying their share.

Trump said he believes he “probably” could withdraw from the NATO alliance without congressional approval – but said that was “unnecessary.” Seems Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Does he ever read the legal information before he opens his mouth.

So another hussy fit from Trump? Threatening to leave NATO. One reason why NATO was created was to counter any aggression from the Soviet Union. Little has changed as it’s now Russia and Russia grabbed Crimea in 2014. Experts believe that without NATO, smaller Baltic countries are at risk for an invasion from Russia.

Trump has previously said that Russia grabbing Crimea wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as there are plenty of Russians living there. The same can be said about many countries formerly part of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet Union did it on purpose – moving Russians into those countries while occupying them.

Trump previously has told allies that if they don’t meet higher spending targets, they should leave the alliance and go it alone on military matters. Is he the NATO Secretary General? Nope. NATO police? Nope. NATO CFO? Nope.

“Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them.” Paying what? NATO requires that a percentage of the countries’ GDP be used for the military – not to pay NATO [unlike the UN]. Maybe he should cut back on his military spending [and the $7 per screw] and maybe help his citizens.

Trump released a letter he recently received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and praised the “great progress” being made in talks with Pyongyang. Trump also touted his meeting with the Kim Jong Un while at NATO, calling it “an amazing meeting” and saying the two “established very good relations.” And yet….

North Korean officials did not show up to a planned meeting with US officials at the demilitarized zone, where they were expected to continue discussions on repatriating the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War. Trump has touted the return of remains as one of the successes of his historic June 12 summit with Kim Jun Un in Singapore.

In England, Trump has already caused problems by claiming that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has “wrecked” the country’s exit from the European Union [Brexit] and likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. The audio was recorded and clearly showed him criticizing May even when he told reports that listen to the recording think that he didn’t say it. Forgetting things already?

Then Trump denied that he criticized May, the day after a British tabloid published an interview with him in which he did just that. He dismissed the interview, conducted by a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication [which are right wing leaning], as “fake news” saying it didn’t include his comments praising May. He also questioned her competence.

Trump said his comments came after he “read some reports” that suggested the United Kingdom would not be able to make a free trade deal with the US and said after he did apologized to May.

He also praised one of May’s political rivals, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned from her government in protest this week – which is against protocol. He said Johnson would make a good Prime Minister and later back peddled by saying May is one.

He does think that the British like him a lot and yet demonstrators showed signs that said “Dump Trump,” “Lock Him Up,” and “There Will Be Hell Toupee.” The largest demonstration in years happened in London happened before Trump visited the Queen. A large giant balloon that flew over Parliament on Friday depicting him as a cell-phone-toting angry baby in a diaper.

Trump acknowledged feeling unwelcome in the city, and blamed that in part on Mayor Sadiq Khan, who gave protesters permission to fly the baby Trump balloon. Trump also blamed recent terrorist attacks there on Khan, who is Muslim. The president claimed Europe is “losing its culture” because of immigration from the Middle East and Africa.

It is also customary for anyone visiting The Queen to show up early. Trump showed up 10 minutes late.

With a news conference on and cameras “rolling” and in front of May, Trump refused to take an interview question from a CNN reporter saying CNN is a fake news network and instead took a question from Fox News.

Trump again blamed President Obama for Russian aggression in Crimea. Trump at times drew laughs from some British reporters, who jeered his criticism of the media and openly laughed at his numerous boasts. Finally, he defended his beliefs that immigration has damaged Europe.

US cable networks began cutting away to cover the Russian indictments. And calls from Congress grew louder for Trump to cancel the meeting in Helsinki with Poutine, whom Trump has previously declined to challenge on 2016 election meddling.

Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to join the US Supreme Court, setting the stage for a dramatic confirmation battle over a stalwart conservative who could shape the direction of the court for decades to come. He has never expressed outright opposition to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal nationwide, and similarly has no record on gay rights and same-sex marriage, but he will face tough questions from Democrats on both issues.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case,” Kavanaugh said at the White House. Which will probably mean voting for all right leaning causes. The White House is hoping the Senate moves quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the midterm elections in November threaten to unfurl the narrow Republican majority in the chamber.

Attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights. Trump also hopes to pressure several Democrats into voting to confirm his nominee as three Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won by double digits.

Kavanaugh’s career path led him from doggedly investigating one president to later on arguing for more legal protections for presidents — after working for another one.

Despite Trump’s insistence that he didn’t consider the nominee’s political views, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, which provided the president with suggested appointees, did. Kavanaugh’s conservative ideology is compatible with these two interest groups and Trump’s most recent ideological posture.

Trump said that he has not brought up the issue of abortion with Kavanaugh. Sure Donnie. Will anyone believe that comment with your history of lies.

Democrats and a few key Republicans in the Senate have said that they will not support a Supreme Court nominee who does not view the Roe v. Wade decision as a settled issue.

Former Republican Presidential nominee, Rick Santorum, said that Trump “bowed to the elite in Washington” – the same people Trump said he would drain from the swamp.

A reminder that during the election of 2016, Trump had said that picks for any Supreme Court nominee would be a vote to end Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and thus punish women. According to a 2016 survey, nearly seventy percent of Americans believe abortion should remain legal in this country.

A federal grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses related to the 2016 presidential election, the Justice Department. The grand jury indictment, part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, alleges intelligence officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) hacked into the computer networks of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and attempted to penetrate voting systems across the country.

The indictments could make things difficult for Trump as he meets Russian dictator Vladimir Poutine next week. He had previously said he didn’t want to offend the Russians but he claims he will ask Poutine flat out whether there was any hacking or other illegal activities. You expecting Poutine to say yes? And pigs will fly.

Of course, the chance of the 12 ever being prosecuted is very unlikely as the US has no extradition treaty with Russia. Trump, meanwhile, continues to be criticized for being reluctant to speak publicly about Russian interference into the campaign.

Trump expressed a remarkable opinion. Democrats “want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13,” he tweeted, referring to the international gang.

During their trip to Moscow recently, an all-Republican delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with at least two Russian sanctioned Russians. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama spoke with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who has been sanctioned since 2014 for Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful” activities in Ukraine. The group also heard from Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev, who complained about the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals. Kosachev was sanctioned in April over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and other “malign activity.”

The Trump administration is preparing another round of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion, ramping up the US-China trade war. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday released a list of thousands of additional goods that could face 10% tariffs after a public comment period. It includes fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, rain jackets and baseball gloves.

The move comes after the United States imposed 25% tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion. Beijing immediately responded with its own tariffs on US goods worth $34 billion.

A one-year-old child who was separated from his father at the southern US border appeared in immigration court. The child is one of several toddlers who have had to appear in court without their parents present. Meanwhile, five pregnant women in immigration detention said they were denied adequate medical care while they were obviously miscarrying. ICE and Customs and Border Protection guards were either unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies.

The goal of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest trip to Pyongyang was to negotiate the details of the nuclear agreement Trump signed along with Kim. North Korea criticized Pompeo’s “gangster-like” demands in negotiations and said the “attitude” of the US was “regrettable”, while Pompeo signaled “progress” in the talks between the two nations.

Trump confirmed that he plans to give a copy of the Elton John hit song “Rocket Man” to the dictator of North Korea. Wonder if it would be just the song [maybe illegally ripped?] or a legitimate copy of Honky Château [from where the song first originated].

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is working with foreign clients as he continues to advise President Donald Trump on the Russia investigation, which raises conflict of interest and federal ethics issues. Giuliani told The Washington Post in interviews that he maintains clients in Ukraine, Brazil and Colombia. [Is this guy an actual lawyer? Seems to know little about law.] Giuliani has not registered with the Department of Justice for his work, arguing that it’s not necessary because Trump isn’t paying him for his counsel and he does not directly lobby the US government. White House officials told the Post they cannot be sure of Giuliani’s claim that he never discusses his clients with Trump.

Trump tweeted “The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!” And no comments from him about the supposedly other 900+ people involved.

A federal judge in California flatly rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to modify a decades-old settlement agreement that limits the length of time and conditions under which US officials may detain immigrant children.

Trump’s former personal driver of more than 20 years has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization alleging that he was forced to work “thousands of hours” of overtime without fair compensation. The driver, Noel Cintron, claims in the lawsuit that he worked an average of between 50 and 55 hours a week for Trump without fair compensation. He is asking for more than $200,000 in unpaid overtime wages over the past six years. Noel Cintron received two raises in 15 years, but had to give up his Trump Organization health insurance in order to get a $7,000 pay increase.

Trump tweeted “Public opinion has turned strongly against the Rigged Witch Hunt and the “Special” Counsel….” I’d like to see that poll Donnie!

According to a Washington Post poll, 65% of women said they disapproved of Trump’s job as president, while 32% said they approved. 54% of men say they approved of Trump, while only 45% said they disapproved.

Trump tweeted “The Rigged Witch Hunt, originally headed by FBI lover boy Peter S (for one year) & now, 13 Angry Democrats, should look into the missing DNC Server, Crooked Hillary’s illegally deleted Emails, the Pakistani Fraudster, Uranium One, Podesta & so much more. It’s a Democrat Con Job!” [I’m wondering if he writes on a calendar when he should make the same comments over and over again.]

The Hudson’s Bay store chain in Canada has stopped selling anything from Ivanka Trump’s products due to poor sales online and phase the merchandise out during the fall. The chain didn’t say if any of the boycotts were the reason. However Shoes.com, Zulily, and Nordstrom stopped selling her products.

207 more weeks of this guy?

Donald Trump opened another large can of worms when he banned people from 7 [Muslim] countries for at least 90 days. It happened so fast in an executive order that many travelers from those country were off guarded and were either detained at airports or told to go back to where they came from. New York mayor said the executive order was so disorganized.

In addition, accepting refugees have been also halted. Not surprised, many countries – aside from those 7 – were upset because of the executive order. Iran responded by banning Americans to Iran for at least 90 days. Others wonder why Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, North Korea and other major terrorist [growing] countries were not included.

Trump claims that Muslim refugees could get into the US easier than Christians but [again] offered no logical reasons or proof.

Catching some off guard [in terms of time, not the expectancy], Trump announced that the US will go ahead and build a wall between the US and Mexico – with Mexico paying. The Mexican president went on TV to say that Mexico will not pay for any wall and was not happy with the announcement that the wall will be built. The Mexican president is considering canceling his trip to see Trump very soon. [The Mexican president’s poling numbers are actually lower than Trump.]

Trump claims that he and the Mexican president decided to postpone their meeting even though the Mexican president said that he canceled the meeting after Trump tweeted basically that if Mexico doesn’t pay for the wall then don’t come.

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Poutine had a chat with his padawan [Starr Wars lingo for apprentice] Donald Trump. [Of course the name “Apprentice” is also the name of Trump’s show he hosted and is somehow still listed as producer.]

The entire senior level of management officials of the State Department resigned recently, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era. Those resigned have worked with both parties. All had submitted their resignations prior to Trump’s January 20 inauguration as is required of officials holding jobs appointed by the president but some were not appointed. They were not required to leave the foreign service but chose to retire or resign for personal reasons, the department said.

Trump is ready to allow torture [such as waterboarding] against foreign detainees and to keep Guantanamo Bay, Cuba open after Obama tried [unsuccessfully] to shut down the prison as well as to reopen CIA detention facilities outside the United States. The draft directive also orders a review of interrogation methods used on terror suspects and calls for suggested modifications that would not violate the U.S. legal ban on torture. Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be consulted but they didn’t know of the draft executive order. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the administration looked at it during the elections but won’t be used. So why is it mentioned now?

Senior members of the Trump administration have been accused of blatant hypocrisy after it was revealed they are continuing to use personal email accounts. Key advisors to the president, Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as press secretary Sean Spicer and chief strategist Steve Bannon, all have accounts on the Republican Party’s rnchq.org domain, and are continuing to use them in addition to their official government accounts, according to Newsweek.

According to hacker WauchulaGhost [who claimed to have hacked 500 pro-ISIS accounts], the Twitter accounts for Trump, Melania Trump and Mike Pence are more vulnerable to hackers because of a basic Twitter security setting they’re not using. With a little bit of work “he” figured out that the Twitter account for Pence is a associated with a less secure Gmail account and both Trumps also use Gmail accounts.

While Trump says he wants to create American jobs, why is his personal phone a Samsung phone – clearly not made in the USA.

Not too smart. Sean Spicer may have tweeted his password for something. 

Trump is still using his less secure Android smart phone to send out his tweets and make calls even though he was supposed to give it up 5 days ago.

“Social media postings sometimes provide an important window into a person’s mental health,” the Department of Defence tweeted. “Know what to look for.” Didn’t take long for comments such as: “@DeptofDefense have you look at the posts by your Commander in Chief? @potus needs immediate help” and “Medal of Freedom for whoever at @DeptofDefense was responsible for this, please.”

Trump tweeted that he is ordering a “major investigation” into voter fraud, revisiting unsubstantiated claims he’s made repeatedly about a rigged voting system. Trump has been fixated on his loss of the popular vote in the election and a persistent frustration that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have finalized their election results with no reports of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump is alleging.

Trump “does believe that, I think he’s stated that before, and stated his concern of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence people have brought to him,” Spicer said. And then he said only that Trump “has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has.” No evidence has been made public – if it exists. Probably not.

[Unsure why Trump would bring up this nonsense. He won the election. Again this makes him look a bit unbalanced. Does he always want controversies in his term?]

A number of studies have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. The Truth About Voter Fraud, a report written by experts at The Brennan Center for Justice, found voter fraud rates were between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.

Trump’s own daughter, Tiffany is registered in both Pennsylvania and New York. Did she vote in both? Trump’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon is registered in Florida and New York. Did he vote in both?

Spicer said that Trump believes in widespread voter fraud, in part, as a 2014 study by Jesse Richman and David Earnest found more than 14% of non-citizens in 2008 and 2010 “indicated that they were registered to vote.” But the sample was so small that it had a huge error range.

“I am to a large extent an environmentalist” Trump said. What? From a guy who doesn’t believe in climate change.

From Trump’s own Twitter account, he says 2 pictures from his inauguration will be hung in the press room at the White House. But if you look closely, the date is January 21st, 2017 – not 20th. [Click on the image in this link showing the crowd.]

In other news, amateur hour. The Trump administration had to recall a press release after they spelled UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s first name wrong. No “H” in the first release.

Trump already signed at least 14 executive orders. Way more than the last half dozen presidents combined.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says that recent threats have forced her to receive an extra layer of security, and she apparently blames the news media. She has Secret Service protection. “We have packages delivered to my house with white substances.” But remember that she’s on the propaganda team. Did she actually get threats and received “white substances”.

A Trump administration freeze on new Environmental Protection Agency contracts and grant awards raised fears that states and other recipients could lose essential funding for drinking water protection, hazardous waste oversight and a host of other programs — while a communications blackout left them dangling in uncertainty. Emails to staff banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts contributed to the information vacuum. Some have created “rogue” Twitter accounts to get around the decree.

Buried at the end of a confirmation hearing last week of Jeff Sessions, who if confirmed will take the helm at the Justice Dept. under the new administration, is a note saying as attorney general is in favor of putting backdoors in encryption.

An online reporter from LifeZette [a pro-Trump site] was able to ask a question at a White House press conferences and briefings where normally only major news outlets are traditionally allowed. I guess we’ll see Breitbart soon…

Trump warned business leaders that he would impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move their manufacturing out of the United States, while promising tax advantages to companies that produce products domestically. So companies can either jump ship [say to Canada as it is close to the US] or build in the US and watch either their profits to shrink [which won’t help their stock] to keep the prices steady or increase prices because the labor in the US is higher than most countries.

A lawsuit alleged that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his business to accept payments from foreign governments. Trump is violating the so-called emoluments clause in the Constitution that prohibits him from receiving money from diplomats for stays at his hotels or foreign governments for leases of office space in his buildings, according to the suit filed by a legal watchdog group.

Trump said that he would hand over control of his company to his two adult sons. He announced several other measures in an attempt to mollify critics who contend that his financial interest as head of a global real estate company could conflict with his pursuit of the public good. Problem is that there has been no indication he has done anything about it.

Humor time – not fake news:

British PM Theresa May almost did not make the trip to Washington recently after rumors when out that Donald Trump was about to issue an executive order for the US to build a wall between the US and the UK and the UK would have to pay.