Trump’s national emergency challenged on all fronts

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

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

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

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

Right after declaring a national emergency, Trump went golfing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The US goes into uncharted territory

Congressional negotiators say they have reached an agreement in principle to avert a partial government shutdown at the end of this week. But the agreement falls short of Donald Trump’s required $5.7 billion to build the Trump Wall. In fact, the deal is for [just] $1.375 billion or 55 miles or a whopping $25 million per mile.

The number of beds administrated by ICE would drop to 40,520 [interesting number] from currently at 49,057. Republicans want 52,000 and the Democrats wanted in the low 30,000s.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did manage to avert the political disaster of a new Trump Shutdown by securing a pledge that Trump would sign a federal funding bill that lacks all the money for his Trump Wall.

But Trump announced a declaration of national emergency, which he would use to reallocate money for a total of $8 billion in government money to fund the Trump Wall.

If the move is not permanently blocked by the courts it could also come back to haunt Republicans, since it could provide a precedent for a future Democratic president to enact liberal priorities on an executive whim.

Already some states’ attorney generals are preparing to go to court. Trump already believes he will lose in the lower courts only to win at the Supreme court. He’ll be shocked when he loses but then will blame anybody and everybody but himself – as usual.

McConnell was forced to back off his previous opposition to declaring a national emergency in order to get Trump to sign the funding bill. Trump is to grab money from the Department of Defense, which doesn’t require approval from Congress.

“We have so much money we don’t know what to do with it,” Trump said. “I don’t know what to do with all the money they’re giving us.” That’s the $1.375 billion – not what he is siphoning [probably] illegally.

Prior to the agreement, Trump says he doesn’t expect another Trump Shutdown, but added if there is one, it’s the “Democrats’ fault.” He is obviously not happy with the deal. A few of his closest allies in Congress plus his some of his cronies at Fox News [maybe his real advisors] have come out against the deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to invoke a clause in the 1976 National Emergencies Act that permits Congress to seek to terminate a President’s declaration that McConnell appears to have no power to stop from coming to the floor in the Senate.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that declaring a national emergency would be a “lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency…. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”

Note that the constitution states that it is Congress that is to handle monetary issues – not the President.

About 66% of Americans said in a poll released earlier this month that Trump should not declare a national emergency to build the Trump Wall. And only 64% of Republicans thought Trump should go ahead — a figure far lower than Trump’s approval numbers with GOP voters.

Trump also lamented that he wasn’t able to build the Trump Wall earlier in his presidency, blaming others. “Would’ve been great to do it earlier, but I was a little new to the job,” he said. “People did not step up – would’ve been easy, not easy, but it would’ve been a lot easier, but some people didn’t step up,” Trump said, apparently referring to the once-Republican controlled House. He likes to repeat himself.

Trump defended his decision to pull funds from the Department of Defense military construction budget in order to build Trump Wall, claiming that “Some of the generals think this is more important … far more important than what they were going to use it for,” Trump said. “It didn’t sound too important to me.”

“When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all through the port of entry. It’s wrong. It’s just a lie. It’s all a lie. They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100%,” Trump said. Except the Democrats got it from government departments and security agencies.

National emergencies can last for one year and then terminate – unless the President renews the declaration 90 days prior.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that it will file a lawsuit challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero saying “By the president’s very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall ‘faster.'”

Whatever you say on social media can bite you in the butt. For example, in November 2014, in which Trump tweeted, “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.” This was when Obama was to use an national emergency to fix an issue. “Now he has to use executive action and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court,” added Trump.

So what President Obama did 4+ years ago was not good in his opinion, but what he did is good?

In his immigration speech in the Rose Garden, Trump claimed that “two weeks ago, 26 were killed in a gunfight on the border a mile away from where I went.” Mexican authorities found a grisly scene that they described as a gang clash but the bodies were found near the Mexican town of Miguel Aleman, located nearly 130 miles northwest from McAllen.

As well, Trump said, “A big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry.” About 90% of heroin seized at the border in the 2018 fiscal year was apprehended at ports of entry. The majority of meth is also detained at the border. In 2018, CBP seized 67,292 pounds of meth at legal ports of entry, compared with 10,382 pounds by Border Patrol agents in between ports, based on available data.

Trump said “You know, we already have national emergencies out there. you know President Obama, President Clinton, President Bush they’ve declared many national … this is not unique….” Except those were real reasons like 9/11 – not an imaginary issue created by him to get his only major campaign promise completed.

One of the sticking points in the shutdown negotiations is the number of detained migrants that can be held at a time. The Democrats want a cap on the amount. The Republicans are refusing saying that the proposal would allow “violent criminals to be released”. But in a statement from the Democrats “This cap will force the Trump administration to prioritize arresting and deporting serious criminals, not law-abiding immigrants.”

[I can see why a cap is needed. The amount of detained migrants which will cost extra resources [security, food, detention centers, immigrant officials, etc.].

Trump tweeted “They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” Which basically means he thinks all migrants are convicted violent criminals. The cap isn’t the only issue stalling the funding process but Trump thinks it is.

Trump continued tweeting “It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown.” While the Virginia mess is a mess, none of what he said otherwise is valid. Even his SoTU address wasn’t a success and the economy is beginning to stall.

Republican and Democratic negotiators are exchanging border security proposals that contain far less funding for the border wall than Trump has demanded, with just days left before a deadline to release their bill ahead of another potential government shutdown. The latest proposals peg the topline funding number for border barriers around $2 billion. Trump has said before that he won’t accept anything less than $5.6 billion – however he caved in to stop the first Trump Shutdown. So anything is possible.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said “He [Trump] would be out of his mind and irresponsible. I think the President has no choice. If he is the least bit sane and responsible.” But “if the President illegally seizes power to reallocate money, he is violating the constitution and his oath of office and the Congress should act accordingly.”

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is confirming for the first time publicly that there were high-level discussions at the Justice Department about recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office in the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey’s firing. The Justice Department has denied involvement.

The White House called McCabe’s investigation “completely baseless.” Trump, who has frequently criticized McCabe, called him a “disgrace” on Twitter and accused him of being politically biased during his time at the FBI. [That’s par for the course. Trump says that about anyone who goes against him.]

The Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general. This will be Barr’s second tour as attorney general; he led the Justice Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. He takes over a department that Trump has repeatedly criticized for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr said he would not let Trump make corrections to the report before a possible publication, and promised to protect the investigation until its finish. Trump himself was upset as he watched television coverage of his nominee for attorney general describing a warm relationship with the special counsel Robert Mueller in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unsure why. Barr told him in 2017 he knew Mueller and his wife. Trump nominated Barr last year.

Paul Manafort “intentionally” lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, breaking the plea agreement that made him the star cooperator in the Russia probe, a federal judge found. Manafort “made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation,” including his contacts with his Russian associate during the campaign and later.

Mueller’s team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders. It was conducted late last year, around the same time as the special counsel interviewed then-White House chief of staff John Kelly. One likely area of interest was how Sanders composed statements she made on the podium defending the President regarding the Russia investigation.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings says that his panel has obtained information that calls into question previous statements made by attorneys representing Trump to federal officials about 2016 hush-money payments to keep an alleged Trump extramarital affair under wraps. Cummings’ committee has obtained new documents showing that Trump’s personal attorney Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino “may have provided false information” when they were questioned by federal ethics officials about hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The Justice Department is investigating the leak last year of confidential reports about Michael Cohen’s personal bank records which led to revelations that the former Trump lawyer was profiting by selling his access to the White House. Meanwhile Cohen’s congressional testimony has been postponed for a third time.

Joseph Votel, the top American general in the Middle East, who has been leading the war against ISIS said that he disagreed with Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned that the terror group was far from defeated, in a stark public break with Trump. Votel also said that the US-backed forces on the ground in Syria were not ready to handle the threat of ISIS on their own.

“By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be President,” Democratic presidential candidate Elisabeth Warren said to voters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.” Earlier in the day she said “Every day, there’s a racist tweet, a hateful tweet, something really dark and ugly,” Warren said of Trump. I’m expecting Trump will react his usual way.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Trump’s eldest son, Donald, made light over the weekend of the US government’s history of genocide against Native Americans as part of a slam against Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her claims of American Indian heritage. Donald Trump Jr.’s comment on social media was in response to a tweet from his father, who attacked Warren and emphasized the word “trail” in a tweet widely construed to be a mocking reference to the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans which led to thousands of deaths.

Trump tweeted “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”

Trump. Jr later captioned his tweet by saying “Savage!!! Love my President.”

While not a Republican hot bed, Trump decided to have a rally in El Paso. He claims that the border wall that was previously built has meant huge cuts in the city’s violent crime. Trump did not mention the agreement – which may not be a good thing.

As his crowd belted out “Build the wall” — Trump tried to grope for a way out: “You really mean ‘finish that wall,’ because we have built a lot of it.” Except the portions of the wall prior to his election were fixed a bit but there has been no new wall built since 2017.

Trump claims that the arena for the rally holds 8,000 and the fire department let in an extra 2,000 while as many as 57,000 [!!!] were outside watching on big screens. [He later claimed there was 35,000 – what happened to the other 34,000? Died? Left?] The El Paso fire department says the arena hold just 6,500 with at most another 3,500 outside and they wouldn’t allow more people than the arena could accommodate. He then went on to claim that Democrat Beto O’Rourke [who was holding a rally nearby] had 200 people or 300 people or 50 people [he said all 3 in his speech].

Trump personally paid to have a “golf simulator” installed in the White House residence that allows him to play virtual rounds of golf but has not yet used the new system, which cost about $50,000 and was installed in the last several weeks. [His new “executive time” option.]

Remember at the end of 2017, the Trump administration pushed out sweeping tax reforms where everyone would get lower tax rates – which should mean higher tax refunds? The new rules lowered most individual rates and nearly doubled the standard deduction. But the average refund is down about 8% under the first full year of the overhauled tax code, according to data released by the IRS. Some experts expect to see a drop in the economy because of the lower refunds.

When asked if he would ever get a dog, Trump said “I don’t know … I don’t feel good. Feels a little phony, phony to me”. Trump said “a lot of people” have encouraged him to get a dog, saying “it’s good politically.” Nearly 4 in 10 households, or 38 per cent, owned at least one dog, the highest estimated rate of dog ownership since 1982. I wonder how dog owners will react to his “phony” comment.

Another sign of how economy is doing under the Trump administration is Payless shoes closing their 2,100 US stores and an estimated 10,000 employess will be out of a job. Unknown what will happen to the 1,500 location worldwide and maybe 8,000 employees.

State of the Union address goes south

Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, not surprisingly, went all over the place. At time he was try to please his base, then holding a [short] olive branch to the Democrats, followed by threatening the Democrats, etc.

Trump insisted that if Democrats wanted peace and prosperity, then they could not carry on “partisan investigations.” A sort of way not to get in trouble because just one investigation that opens up a can of worms can ruin him. But investigations can further divide Congress. Or if you want economic prosperity, you can’t investigate the President. One doesn’t work with the other.

He, of course, repeated his push for the wall giving the same excuses we heard before – most not quite true.

He touted the low unemployment rate which it is for now but with the economy showing signs of slowing down, that may not last.

Trump pushed for bipartisan unity because he knows he will have a tough time getting any legislation passed through the House. “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution…” Doesn’t that describe what he has done?

Trump continues to exaggerate the border and Trump Wall issue while hinting of declaring a national emergency to get it built even though the democrats as well as some Republicans are against it. Some Republicans fear if he did declare, then when the Democrats have power they could also declare a national emergency on issues which aren’t really. A veto by the senators may not so out of reach.

Trump railed against illegal immigration, which he said results in lower wages for the American working class. But what about those who were fired after working at the Trump Organization’s golf courses [see later].

Just a few hours before this speech, he hosted a lunch with TV anchors where he, according to a New York Times report, attacked Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and John McCain — a national hero who has been dead for over five months. Classy.

In his address, Trump called for the elimination of HIV transmissions in the United States by 2030, raising hope and questions about putting an end to the epidemic. The initiative aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in the next five years and by 90% in the next 10 years, “averting more than 250,000 HIV infections in that span,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump’s plan will fund programs in geographic hot spots, data to identify and track the spread of HIV, and the creation of local efforts in targeted areas to expand HIV prevention and treatment.

Many health experts applauded the effort, but some also criticized the White House for cutting funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the past. This include undermining access to affordable health insurance, HIV drugs and cutting funds for HIV research. Also chopped was some funding for other countries.

From CNN commentator Ana Navarro: “If you had been in a coma for the last three years, and suddenly awoke in time to hear just the opening minutes and closing minutes, you would think Trump was a unifying, bipartisan, gracious leader.”

Seems Trump has slimmer pickings for “designated survivor” for the State of the Union address as you can’t choose someone in the cabinet that was not approved by the senate or not born in the US. There are 5 interims who are rejected. 65% of Trump’s top aides have been replaced at least once. Presidents Clinton and Obama were in the low 70s but that was over 8 years.

It is almost a tradition for a member of Congress to bring guests according to the issues they support. From furloughed government works, to someone related to a LGBTQ issue to someone who lost everything in a disaster to someone who is a shooting survivor. In the address after 9/11, a single seat honored those who died in the attack.

To run it through Congress on time, to avert another Trump Shutdown, a deal would have to be reached by Friday or at latest during the weekend. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would accept a bipartisan agreement reached by the committee.

The border briefing was conducted by unnamed career officials, not Trump administration appointees, at the agency, an effort to turn down the political and emotional rhetoric of the debate so negotiators could more soberly assess the needs on the border and reach a deal. The career officials reported that they agreed with Democrats that new technologies — like sensors and drones — were a higher priority than new barriers.

Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met with contractors at the White House to discuss building the border wall very recently. Trump is seriously considering an emergency declaration to bypass Congress and using an emergency declaration to build his Trump Wall.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff announced he was launching a wide-ranging inquiry into Trump’s finances and whether financial considerations were driving decisions made by the administration.

Schiff said the investigation would include a continued probe into Russia’s actions during the 2016 election and contacts between the Russia and Trump’s team, as well as an examination of “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.” Schiff said the investigation would also look at whether Trump or his associates have “sought to influence US government policy in service of foreign interests” and any potential obstruction into the various investigations.

When Trump responded to a reporter asking him to comment on Schiff’s opening of a broad investigation, Trump responded by saying “he’s just a political hack trying to build a name for himself,” and then adding that Schiff had no “reason to do that.” and he calls it “Presidential harassment”. Well at least Schiff is a politician and I think Schiff is already well known. You don’t see him putting his hat in the ring to become a real president for 2020.

Schiff has hired officials with experience at the National Security Council to help with his panel’s oversight of Trump’s administration. Trump wasn’t happy. No recent hire came directly from the White House but no idea if any worked in the Trump administration.

Since the day after the 2018 midterm elections, Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time [297 hours] in unstructured “executive time.” Some meetings are listed as “executive time” to keep them hidden from West Wing staff members out of fear of possible leaks. He spent 77 hours in meetings and just over 38 hours at events.

On the day after the midterms, Trump’s schedule contained a 30-minute meeting with then-chief-of-staff John Kelly and more than seven hours for “executive time.”

Trump spends his mornings in the residence [until 11 am], watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders says that “…there is time to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive President in modern history.”

The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, said in a hearing he “was not consulted” prior to Trump’s December announcement that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria. Votel said the fight against the terror group is “not over” and warned ISIS could regroup after US troops leave.

The Trump administration ordered approximately 3,750 additional US forces will deploy to the southwest border to provide additional support to Customs and Border Protection. That support includes a mobile surveillance capability through the end of September 2019 as well as placing 150 miles of concertina wire between ports of entry. The Defense Department said the total active duty forces supporting CBP at the border will be approximately 4,350.

The governor of New Mexico has pulled the National Guard from border patrols saying “I’m not going to participate, nor do I think it’s appropriate in any shape or fashion to use the National Guard to attempt to militarize the border where we’re dealing with asylum seekers who their constitutional rights continue to be breached.”

Trump is refusing to meet a legal requirement to send Congress a report that requires the White House to determine whether Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is personally responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would require mandatory sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi’s death, prohibit certain weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and report on human rights within the Kingdom.

In an interview with CBS, Trump said:

  • “…Of the thirty-four people [who pleaded guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation], many of them were bloggers from Moscow — or they were people that had nothing to do with me.” Yes but what about Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and soon add Roger Stone.
  • “Roger is somebody that I’ve always liked, but a lot of people like Roger.” But in 2008 Trump said “Roger is a stone-cold loser.” As well wait until Stone works with the investigation. Trump will change his mind.
  • “And this really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers.” If there is an investigation, why wait 3 weeks for Congress to solve things instead of acting now.
  • “First of all, Roger Stone didn’t work on the campaign.” But in August 2015, “Donald Trump’s campaign said Saturday it has fired top political adviser Roger Stone — who promptly denied being let go and insisted he had quit.”
  • “Even the Mueller report said it had nothing to do with the campaign.” But the report isn’t out yet.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator Andrew Wheeler has maintained the custom of his predecessor Scott Pruitt of meeting with far more industry executives and lobbyists than environmental groups. Wheeler held or attended more than 50 meetings with representatives of companies or industry groups regulated by the EPA between April and August of last year, including a company he previously lobbied for.

During the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Trump was not granted a loan from Deutsche Bank following an extensive debate within the ranks of the bank. Trump’s loan request said the decision ultimately came down to senior bank officials thinking that Trump’s bombastic candidacy made the loan too high of a risk for the bank to take on. The Trump Organization’s request was made in order to get financing for work on a golf property in Turnberry, Scotland, by borrowing against the organization’s Miami property.

The White House announced that Trump’s former physician, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, will serve as assistant to Trump and chief medical advisor. There were allegations that he was “abusive” toward colleagues, loosely handled prescription pain medications and was periodically intoxicated.

Trump also resubmitted his nomination for Jackson to receive a military promotion to two-star admiral. That nomination will not move forward while the Defense Department investigation is ongoing.

Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed Trump’s inaugural committee for documents related to donors, vendors and finances, according to a copy of the subpoena, a step that appears to escalate that office’s ongoing investigation of the committee’s activity. It demands documents related to any “benefits” offered to donors, including “tickets, photo opportunities, and/or small group receptions.”

It discloses that prosecutors are investigating a litany of potential crimes: conspiracy against the US, false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, inaugural committee disclosure violations, and violations of laws prohibiting contributions by foreign nations and contributions in the name of another person, also known as straw donors.

Trump campaign lawyers laid out in a court filing he tactics they could use to hold back evidence related to the presidential transition from federal investigators and in lawsuits. They are pushing that the presidential transition should have as much protection around it for being a quasi-governmental operation as the executive branch has.

Trump Organization has reportedly fired over 18 undocumented employees, while admitting that they never fully used the federal system to check their workers’ immigration status in the first place. This in addition to 11 undocumented employees go at its Westchester County golf club. All this after undocumented employee Victorina Morales went public with her story to the New York Times in December. The evidence of the Trump organization’s shady hiring practices-including the alleged use of fake green cards and social security numbers-has reportedly been turned over the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

While I won’t go into it fully because this blog is about Trump, American Media Inc., publishers of the National Enquirer, could lose their immunity related to the investigation on Michael Cohen when recently the National Enquirer threatened and tried to blackmail primary Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.

Officials from the Trump administration said it would require too much effort to reunite the thousands of families it separated before implementing its “zero-tolerance” policy in April, according to a declaration filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the American Civil Liberties Union and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As Trump claimed how well American manufacturing is doing at the State of the Union address, 4,000 salaried staff at General Motors were laid off as part of the job reductions announced late last year the day before the address. One of the plants closing is in Lordstown, Ohio, that Trump personally promised to revive during the 2016 campaign. Trump claimed GM would soon announce steps that could counteract the effect of the plant closures, though what those actions are remain unclear.

Trump’s apparent gaffe during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast lit up social media when he referenced the “abolition of civil rights”. It’s not hard to read a screen in front of you that has your speech!

Trump still has ignored doctor’s orders by eating plenty of junk food [brought in from outside by aides] or when eating out having well cooked steak and fries. He has never used the fitness room in the White House. His only exercise besides walking between rooms is golfing but he uses a cart between holes. Because of an increase in bad cholesterol he was prescribed with an increase dose of Crestor.

A new CBS poll found that a majority of Americans – 66% – say Trump should not declare a national emergency to build the wall if Congress refuses to fund it but 73% of Republicans favor it. As well 73% of those polled want Trump to continue negotiating while keeping the government open if he doesn’t get wall money by February 15.

Some miscellaneous Trump stuff

Well, I decided to issue a mid-week report just so I can release some lesser new items in Trumpland.

In an interview, Donald Trump said he doubts lawmakers will reach a deal over new border wall funding that he would accept and said he will build the wall anyway with emergency powers if necessary. Another government shutdown is “certainly an option.”

Trump also doubts he would agree to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US illegally when they were children, known as Dreamers, in exchange for new border wall funding. Yes. Already giving up on the talks probably before they began. He has no faith.

Congressional Budget Office said that delayed paychecks, reduced working hours, and stalled contracts led to a loss of about $11 billion in gross domestic product over the five-week shutdown. About $8 billion of that will be recovered as workers return, but $3 billion or 0.02% of gross domestic product in 2019 will never be recovered. Still more than what Trump wanted for the Trump Wall.

Despite repeated claims by the Trump administration that ISIS has been defeated, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats assesses that the terror group “very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.” ISIS may be down to two pockets [or towns] in Iraq but they are also elsewhere.

Looks like another wall is falling apart: Trump is backing away from his knowledge of what former advisor Roger Stone did for him saying he didn’t do much. Stone himself has said he may work with special counsel’s Robert Mueller’s investigation. It is typical that when Trump sees his association with one of his allies could cause him problems, he then tries to show that the [former] ally didn’t do much. Just happened with Stone. Previously happened with Cohen and others.

Stone has pleaded not guilty. Meanwhile, Mueller may subpoena Stone aide Andrew Stone who may be able to add further information in the investigation.

GOP booster Ann Coulter, speaking to a mostly liberal audience on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” said that if they want to “get Trump,” focus on the wall: “He promised something for 18 months and he lied about it. That’s how you get Trump. It’s not this Russia nonsense.”

She wasn’t the only right-wing commentator who wasn’t happy with Trump giving in. But there are also some who think Trump actually had the advantage in the deal saying  that Trump relieved the pain and suffering of the shutdown and now has a stronger hand in negotiations for border wall funding. Ummm. The man who caused the pain and suffering saved the same people?

Despite repeated claims by the Trump administration that ISIS has been defeated, US intelligence assesses that the terror group “very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.”

Someone created a fake Washington Post newspaper here as a PDF – fast forwarded to May 1st.

You can also read the web version here.

At a Washington annual dinner of big shots in the US where Trump didn’t show up [again], former Secretary of State, John Kerry, had a few jokes in his speech:

  • “Donald Trump could be the first President to go to the inaugural of his successor in a limo with license plates made by his campaign manager.”
  • “I got to tell you, you all look incredibly dapper tonight in your ball gowns, your tuxedos, your bow ties and your cummerbunds, or as we call it at our house: workout gear. Or as we call it at our other house: pajamas. Or as we call it at our other house: swimming costumes. But tonight it looks like I’ve done something Donald Trump can only dream of: finishing my term.”
  • “I think we’ve all noticed, there’s been a lot of turnover in this administration. Secretary (Ryan) Zinke was fired. Reince Priebus was fired. Rex Tillerson, Gen. McMaster, Jeff Sessions — all fired. One thing you can say about the Trump people — they’re not quitters.”

By the end of last year, Trump had accumulated more than 7,600 untruths during his presidency — averaging more than 15 erroneous claims a day during 2018, almost triple the rate from the year before.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Jan. 13 found that 54 per cent of Americans oppose a wall along the border, while 42 per cent express support for it. Fully 87 per cent of Republicans favour the wall, compared with about as many Democrats [84 per cent] who are opposed.

Sales of existing homes fell by 6.4% last month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing home sales fell 10.3% for the year. A sign that the economy isn’t doing too well.

According to a CBS News poll, the percentage of Americans who believe the investigation is justified stands at 50% while 45% believe it is politically motivated. The numbers represent a change from where they stood in late November, when CBS found that 46% of Americans thought the investigation was justified and 51% believed it was politically motivated.

As of April 2018, white evangelical support for Trump was at an all-time high: 75%. This is from a man who is on his third wife, fathered 5 children from the 3 wives, paying off a porn star and a Playboy model, has commented about grabbing women by the p___y, groping allegations, etc. Evangelists believe only in a marriage between a man and a woman, no premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual or lesbian activity, polygamy, etc. So how did he get to 75%?

A CBS News released showing Trump with 36% approval, his lowest of all polls this month. Additionally, 71% of Americans said that building a wall along the border with Mexico isn’t worth shutting down the government, and most (61%) said the border can be secured without building a wall. A majority of 56% of Republicans said the wall is worth shutting the government down and 43% said it isn’t.

In a light-hearted item, Trump does away with signing executive orders [for example] the traditional way. Presidents prior to him would sign one letter at a time. After each letter, he would give the pen to an individual nearby. Trump, signs his name and then passes out that pen [or marker in his case] and others. Trump claims that the signatures of the previous presidents were horrible. His is a mess.

A bit of humor [or is it]: If you want to know what the US could turn to [or at least some of it], The Handmaid’s Tale reminds me a bit of what it would be like if Mike Pence ever became president.

So below freezing temps to cover 75% of US. Expect at least one of:

  1. Americans blame Canada causing the US to recall their ambassador.
  2. Trump to add tariffs because of the weather.
  3. Trump to ask where global warming is?

Government re-opens after Trump caved in

Congressional leaders and Donald Trump agreed to reopen the federal government, that includes a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through February 15. The agreement includes a furloughed employees back pay provision and money to fix the current border wall but not build the Trump Wall. Trump has said he may declare a national emergency if no deal is reached on what to do with the Trump Wall.

[So, Trump caved in. With this agreement, Trump didn’t gain anything. He didn’t get funding for the Trump Wall. Even after February 15th, it could be another shutdown. Trump hinted at going nuclear by going with the national emergency option (see below) but that could be bad for him.]

It is possible that the White House is preparing a draft proclamation for Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border and has identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for the Trump Wall. As mentioned previously, lawsuits could by flying all over as many [including in the Republican Party] do not feel that this constitutes a national emergency.

According to options being considered, the administration could pull: $681 million from treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds.

Some land to be used for the Trump Wall fall on private property which the government would expropriate. Of note, the last time a wall was built, in 2006, there was a bunch of legal action by the property owners.

Trump had a proposal which includes funds for humanitarian assistance, technology, border agents, law enforcement personnel, and immigration judges. Trump laid out additional concessions that include providing three years of deportation relief to about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children and 300,000 immigrants with temporary protected status.

Trump’s new proposal would not provide a pathway to citizenship for those DACA recipients and would provide $5.7 billion for physical barriers. 10 months ago, Democrats supported a bipartisan bill that would have not only provided a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients but also provided $25 billion in border security which would contribute to a border wall and border-related security.

The Democrats want the Trump Shutdown to end and provide a pathway to citizenship for those DACA recipients.

Trump tweeted “If we create a Wall or Barrier which prevents Criminals and Drugs from flowing into our Country, Crime will go down by record numbers!” He will [of course] have no data to back up this false claim.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked legislation for the fourth time that would reopen most of the government currently closed during the partial Trump Shutdown. McConnell claims that he doesn’t want any Senate vote if he know that Trump won’t agree. But it could be embarrassing to McConnell and Trump if quite a few Republican senators agree to end the shutdown. McConnell finally allowed 2 votes but both were defeated in the Senate – almost along party lines.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who just wrote a letter to Trump saying she will not pass a resolution to hold the State of the Union in House chambers, said she did so “because the government is closed.” Trump responded saying the Democrats “become radicalized.” Radicalized? Does he know the definition? White House officials said having the State of the Union outside of Washington is possible.

Trump said he is postponing his state of the union address until the partial government shutdown ends, yielding after a weeklong showdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. With the shutdown now over [for now], I guess the address is now on for January 29th.

Trump conceded that “no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber” and that he was not looking for an alternate option after Pelosi served notice that he won’t be allowed to deliver the address to a joint session of Congress next week.

Trump tweeted “She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date.” She changed her mind but only because she didn’t expect the record Trump Shutdown to last this long. From her original letter from earlier this month, Pelosi denied Trump the chance to have the speech at the House.

When Pelosi told Trump the House wouldn’t approve a resolution allowing him to address Congress until the shutdown ended. Trump shot back that Pelosi was afraid of hearing the truth about the need for better border security.

A president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both chambers’ explicit permission. A resolution needs to be approved by both chambers specifying the date and time for receiving an address from the president.

Trump claimed this has never happened before. There is no precedent for a state of the union invitation being rescinded but there has been times when the State of the Union address was either delayed, filmed/printed or sent in print.

Trump tweeted “Nancy Pelosi has behaved so irrationally & has gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat. She is so petrified of the “lefties” in her party that she has lost control…And by the way, clean up the streets in San Francisco, they are disgusting!” there is a party called Radical Democrat? And I don’t think it is the responsibility of a Congressperson to clean streets but the municipality.

Protesters packed the Senate’s Hart Office building to protest the Trump Shutdown. Many held signs made out of paper plates, with slogans demanding an end to the shutdown so furloughed federal employees can go back to work.

About 5,000 IRS workers cited hardships and did not show up for work and 9,000 others were not able to be reached. Meanwhile, 12,000 thousand of the 26,000 in the division who were called back from furlough showed up for work. The average time to answer the phone was 25 to 40 minutes. But in the last filing season it was 7 to 10 minutes.

This past week, the last of the food stamps were released. As well, the number of Transportation Security Administration that didn’t work this past Sunday was 10% of the work force. They took the “day off” because of financial issues [although I’m sure some wanted to watch the (American) football games or hunker down from the bad weather].

Trump ally and advisor, Roger Stone, has been indicted by a grand jury on seven counts brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who alleges that the long-time Trump associate sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump’s opponents at the direction of “a senior Trump Campaign official.”

Stone has maintained publicly that he did not know in advance about what WikiLeaks would release. That alleged lie, which he also told to Congress, forms the basis for some of his other criminal charges in the indictment. The indictment also alleges that Stone lied to Congress about “his communications with the Trump Campaign about Organization 1.” In the indictment, Organization 1 is WikiLeaks.

Stone said at one point that the charges are false even as people were chanting “lock him up”. He also lied to Congress which may be hard to deny. White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders threw Stone under the bus saying it has nothing to do with Trump. Uh huh.

Unsure where his brains are: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he doesn’t “really quite understand why” federal workers who have missed paychecks due to the partial government shutdown don’t just take out loans to cover the gap. Ross who made his fortune buying distressed debt.

Previously, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said earlier this month that furloughed federal workers who are not getting paid during the partial government shutdown are “better off” because they won’t be docked vacation days and will eventually get paid anyway.

Even Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, says federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay due to the partial government shutdown are experiencing a “little bit of pain” for the “future of our country.”

Trump told advisers that he felt his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had obscured what he believed was a public relations victory: the special counsel’s rare public statement disputing portions of a BuzzFeed News story that Trump instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie before Congress. Giuliani’s media blitz was filled with a dizzying array of misstatements and hurried clarification. Some of Trump’s allies have suggested that Giuliani be barred from evening interviews because of concerns that he was going on TV after drinking.

“I am afraid it will be on my gravestone. ‘Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump.’ Somehow, I don’t think that will be it,” Giuliani told The New Yorker. “But, if it is, so what do I care? I’ll be dead. I figure I can explain it to St. Peter.”

Cohen was subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in mid-February. Senate Intelligence traditionally does their interviews behind closed doors, not publicly.

Cohen announced he is postponing his public congressional testimony that was scheduled for February 7, citing “ongoing threats against his family from President Trump” and his attorney.

Cohen’s wife and father-in-law feel threatened by comments by the Trump and Giuliani. Trump suggested without evidence that he was aware of damaging information about Cohen’s family. Trump suggested that Cohen had cut a deal “to keep his wife out of trouble,” as well as his father in law. A sked if it was OK to go after Cohen’s father-in-law, Giuliani responded, “it is, if the father-in-law is a criminal. Isn’t this witness tampering or something?

Cohen’s taxi business was linked closely to his family members, including his father-in-law, from whom Cohen bought some medallions. During the course of his taxi medallion purchases, Cohen and his wife took out several loans of unspecified value. His father-in-law pleaded guilty in 1993 to a financial crime relating to the taxi business, according to court records.

The House Oversight Committee has opened a probe where there were “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump administration” and alleges that the White House and the Trump transition team “appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information.” The probe could yield information about how Jared Kushner gained high-level security clearances despite myriad concerns.

The Supreme Court allowed Trump’s transgender military ban to go into effect, dealing a blow to LGBT activists who call the ban cruel and irrational. The policy blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving with limited exceptions. It also specifies that individuals without the condition can serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court once again did not act on the Trump administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, leaving protections for nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children in place for at least the next several months.

Tower in Trump’s Washington hotel is technically a monument and requires federal workers. So they aren’t getting paid but are working.

The many lawsuits filed against Trump [let alone by him and other lawsuits] are on hold because of the shutdown. They are not essential – but it seems the Supreme Court is.

At Capitol Lounge, federal employees who walk in after midnight can order cocktails for $5. Some of the lounge’s highlights? “Nothing Really Mattis,” “Butina’s on the Rocks,” and “Border Wall Banger.”

As a major snow storm is dumping snow over a big chunk of the US, Trump tweets “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!” Yup. This coming from that climate expert. We already know, he doesn’t know the difference between global warming and climate change. Did he comment about Australia where a city was hit with over 3 weeks of over 40C/104F. Certain areas hit 50C/122F.

Supposedly, White House adviser Jared Kushner was rejected for a security clearance by two White House security specialists after red flags raised by the FBI background check about potential foreign influence raised concerns, but their supervisor overruled them and approved Kushner’s top secret clearance. That supervisor overruled at least 30 others granting them clearance. Prior to the supervisor’s arrival, it happened once in 3 years.

As one of Trump’s top aides, he was seeking an even higher clearance known as “sensitive compartment information.” That clearance is granted by the CIA. A CIA agent wondering how Kushner got even a top secret clearance. The CIA has not granted the “sensitive compartment information” clearance.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform has launched his investigation into the White House’s security clearance process citing “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration.”

Pope Francis has taken another shot at wall-building politicians, telling thousands of Catholics in Panama and taking a jab at Trump, “This is the criteria to divide people: The builders of bridges and the builders of walls, those builders of walls sow fear and look to divide people.”

In his upcoming book, Trump supporter, former New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie, dubbed former national security adviser Michael Flynn a “Russian lackey and future federal felon,” former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt “greedy and inexperienced,” former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — who was ousted in 2017 for using private jets for multiple government business trips — “high flying,” former Attorney General Jeff Sessions “not-ready-for-prime-time” and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “a stranger.”

Trump tweeted “The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press.” Inaccurately? If she says something, how can the media report something else with so many news outlets [including pro-Trump] reporting. If she said “train”, the media can’t report “airplane”. As for rudely, look back at any “daily” [or should I say monthly] briefing. It has always been like that. Everybody yelling for her to pick them and for her to actually respond to the question with a real answer.

There are two endorsement resolutions that are circulating by some Republicans. One resolution would also declare Trump the party’s “presumptive nominee” more than 18 months before the 2020 nominating convention, and it would specifically authorize the party to re-elect Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. The second, offered by RNC insiders, would declare the committee’s “undivided support” for Trump.

The shutdown continue into the 4th week and no end in sight

Boy this was a busy week in Trumpland.

Donald Trump offered familiar warnings but scant detail on how he will negotiate an end to a partial government shutdown in an address to the nation meant to convince Americans of a swelling border crisis that most experts say does not exist. Trump warned of “a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” one that most experts say is at odds with the facts. But he did not declare the situation a “national emergency.”

Among his comments that were misleading or false:

  • “[Senate Minority Leader] Sen. Chuck Schumer has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past.” But Schumer supported a fence in 2006 – not a wall. Like later on in this blog, does he know the difference between a fence and a wall?
  • “At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.” In fact, the Democrats have long opposed Trump’s campaign promise that he would build a concrete wall on the US-Mexico border and they never proposed a steel barrier as an alternative.
  • “More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.” Some 58,220 Americans died as a result of the Vietnam War. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of total drug overdose deaths was 70,327. But since the topic is primarily about the Trump Wall, you cannot say all or most of those killed came from drugs coming into the US from Mexico.
  • “Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border.” While Trump’s statistics on heroin deaths are true, it’s unclear what a border wall would do to reduce the amount of heroin coming across the border. There are plenty of ways to ship drugs across a border. According to the DEA’s 2018 annual drug threat assessment, most drugs come in from vehicles [not mules or other individuals] that are trying to enter the US legally [mingling with legal goods].
  • “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.” While some African Americans with little education are affected, economists have determined that immigrants — undocumented or not — tend to help American workers by serving in low-skilled jobs that create more opportunities for the native born to move into managerial and knowledge-based roles.
  • “1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” While the statistics is true and 68.3% of migrants and refugees entering Mexico reported being victims of violence during their transit toward the United States, the numbers decrease when traveling in caravans.
  • “How much American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” he asked. Who’s blood? If he is claiming [for example] the number of illegals killing Americans, what about those Americans killing Americans? How many died in Chicago in 2018? [650 murders, BTW.]

Trump said he had not wanted to deliver the televised speech or make an upcoming trip to the border, finding the new publicity strategy useless but that his advisers had talked him into it. But he did do the speech and took the trip.

In a trip to the Texas-Mexican border, one law enforcement person shows Trump that some are digging tunnels under walls that are currently in place. I don’t think Trump really cared.

At one point Vice President Mike Pence said he would accept $2.5 billion. When Trump was asked about $2.5 billion, he insisted on the $5.6 billion without asking who suggested $2.5 billion.

Three weeks and counting for the Trump Shutdown – or as he calls it a “strike”. Seriously? Does he knows the difference between a shutdown and a strike? Seems the “Art of the Deal” author doesn’t know how to make a deal.

While Trump says he “relates” how those workers who aren’t getting paid feel [hah!], those not getting paid are starting to look for other jobs to make up for the income, others have major issues because of medical problems to deal with, others are having problems paying bills, some may be hit with foreclosure, filing for unemployment, etc.

Department of Labor says that 4,760 federal employees applied for unemployment in the first week of the shutdown. This was a 400% increase over the previous week. Employees who are deemed essential and are currently working without pay are not eligible to claim unemployment.

Trump is still claiming that many of those in government who are not working or who are working without pay are on his side – even though he says they are [all] Democrats. He is getting this information from social media [i.e. his Twitter account]. Even if true, unsure if that is a valid way of polling people. Some could of said yes or no multiple times.

Trump walked out of discussions to end a partial government shutdown, now entering its fourth week, calling discussions with congressional Democrats “a total waste of time.”

“He asked Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no. And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss,’ and he just walked out,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump said he asked about boarder security and not the Trump Wall. Sure Donnie. Your wall is the only thing on your mind.

When Trump threatened to call the Trump Wall a national emergency to get his money for the wall, it would be challenged in the courts and could cause possibly a constitutional crisis. Even some Republicans are against calling it a national emergency as it could be an abuse of power – no matter how legal it is. South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham supports the move.

If this is a national emergency, it definitely doesn’t compare to real nation emergencies such as after 9/11. There are currently 28 of them that are active since the days of George H. W. Bush [except for Jimmy Carter blocked Iranian government property from entering the country]. Other countries [Venezuela, Yemen, South Sudan and others] are included for blocking their nationals from owning US property or US investing plus terrorism related but nothing involves infrastructure in the US.

Trump claims the Republican party is “totally unified” behind him and later said “extremely united”. Next it will be “extremely totally united”.

He also claims he never said that Mexico would pay for the Trump Wall even though he has clearly said it numerous times since the primaries in 2016. Uh huh.

You would figure that Trump would ease his demands regarding the border wall. Instead, he slightly added to his demands for more money for the Trump Wall and then added further money requests for money to hire further border personnel, detention centers, etc.

He is also changing what the Trump Wall will be made of – from concrete to steel to whatever. He claims “whatever the Democrats” will call it. Doesn’t he know what his wall is made of? After all he has said previously that the wall is already being built. Where? Who authorized paying for what was built? Does he know the difference between building and repairing?

Trump claims that every single living US President wanted a border wall. Not even former Vice president Joe Biden knows of any. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney equates the George H. W. Bush fence with a wall. But he also can’t say which president wanted a wall. He should seriously look at the definition of what a wall is.

Here’s the list of shutdown over the past few presidents: Trump 3 [including this one – all in 2018; in just 2 years], Obama 1 [over 8 years], Clinton 2 [over 8 years], George H.W. Bush 1 [over 8 years], Reagan 8 [all a few days or less and over 8 years], Carter 5 [over 4 years], Ford 1 [2.5 years].

White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp acknowledged in an interview that US taxpayers will foot the bill for a border wall.

Trump revived his criticism of California, insisting again the state has mismanaged forest management programs and allowed wildfires to rage. Trump’s threat to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency funds from recent wildfire survivors drew a swift rebuke from California Sen. Kamala Harris, a potential Democratic challenger to Trump for the White House in 2020, as well as the state’s other top Democrats, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents the Bay Area.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose office manages the Russia investigation, is planning to leave the Justice Department shortly after William Barr, the President’s nominee for attorney general, is confirmed. The source said Rosenstein is not being forced out, and he has conveyed his thinking to the White House. The move may be the clearest signal to date that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is close to wrapping up.

Trump claims that the stock market is up over 30% since his election. Not really. Dow Jones was just under 20,000 on his first day in office and is over 23,000 today. Until a year ago it was a steady climb. Since then, it was gone up and down like a yoyo. At its peak Trump would of been right except for the recent tumble.

In the last 12 years, the number of apprehended illegals crossing the border from Mexico have dropped from over a million in 2006 to 310,000 in 2017. [With a low estimate of $20 billion to build the Trump Wall, it comes out to almost $64,000 per illegal if using the 2017 statistics.] Here is the statistics.

Trump said that he is “in no hurry” to name official replacements for several Cabinet-level positions in his administration. There are acting Interior Secretary, acting EPA director, acting White House chief of staff, and acting secretary of defense. Add as well acting US ambassador to the United Nations and acting attorney general.

Another upcoming resignation. Michael Bright has been effectively running the federal mortgage backer Ginnie Mae as chief operating officer since 2017. Bright was formally nominated to take over the post last May, but his confirmation has been bottled up in the Senate. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that Bright had submitted his resignation, effective January 16.

[If you do comparisons, in Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, there has been just one resignation from cabinet (and it was this past week) as the individual is leaving politics. This excludes those who lost their cabinet job.]

Mulvaney said when he got promoted, some friends congratulated him or consoled him. Wonder why. He also put the blame of the extra $2 trillion added to the national debt on the House and Senate even though Trump has the right to veto any spending bill and Trump allowed the cut in taxes to the large corporations at the end of 2017.

“Working in the White House is a tremendous privilege and a tremendous opportunity, and if you do it properly, I think it can be a lot of fun,” Mulvaney added. “Fun”?

Just a couple of weeks after saying that he wanted all the troops in Syrian home, Trump has really back peddled. First it could be a very slow withdrawal – if there is even a withdrawal. Now Trump never said there would be a withdrawal. National Security Advisor John Bolton says there is no timetable for America troops leaving Syria. He is promising that the pullout would not occur until the Islamic State was fully eradicated from the country and Turkey could guarantee the safety of Kurdish fighters who have fought alongside American personnel.

Iowa House Republican, Steve King, who has repeatedly expressed xenophobic sentiment and cozied up to politicians affiliated with white nationalist sentiments and movements claims he is just a “nationalist”. That is the exactly the word Trump describes himself. King has retweeted far-right comments, endorsed far-right politicians elsewhere, etc.

 

The new year starts continuing from the last year… a mess

Now in his second tweet of the year, what President would say “Happy New Year to everyone, including the haters and the fake news media! 2019 will be a fantastic year for those not suffering from Trump derangement syndrome”?

Donald Trump said that he is considering using emergency powers which would allow him to use military funding to build The Trump Wall on the US-Mexico border, saying “I can do it if I want.” Trump also said he believes he doesn’t need congressional approval to build the wall. How legally he can request to build a wall could end up in the courts.

“We can call a national emergency because of the security … I haven’t done it. I may do it but we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,” he said during remarks in the White House Rose Garden. How do you build a wall “quickly”?

A US official said that there is other money available that Trump could use for the emergency spending of construction funds but that he would have to cancel existing military construction projects to do so. There are $13 billion in obligated funds from prior years that have not yet been spent and $10 billion in FY 19 funds already earmarked for various military projects.

A plan to end the Trump Shutdown late last year that was approved by the Senate was also approved with basically the same plan in the Democratic controlled House in 2019. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t allow any House approved plan to be voted in the Senate if Trump rejects the plan before a Senate vote.

Trump is now calling the shutdown the “Schumer Shutdown” even though he said at the beginning that the shutdown is all his. He knows the longer it goes on the less good it looks for him.

The Democrats proposed several plans to end the shutdown giving pay for all the agency except DHS for a year and DHS until mid-February. The plans doesn’t give any money for the Trump Wall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear he will not move forward on any legislation until Trump signs off on it. Didn’t take long for Trump to outright reject them because of no money for the Trump Wall.

Trump “said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time — months or even years,” according to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who spoke to reporters in the White House driveway. “Absolutely I said that,” Trump affirmed from the Rose Garden shortly afterward. “I don’t think it will, but I’m prepared.”

Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without paychecks through the Trump shutdown, have called out from work this week from at least four major airports. At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, as many as 170 TSA employees have called out each day this week. Call outs have increased by 200%-300% at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where typically 25 to 30 TSA employees call out from an average shift.

This Trump Shutdown is not only affecting the 800,000 works but will also affect immigration asylum cases as the judges who preside over those cases aren’t working. Also affected are small businesses who have contractors working for the government. While small businesses are paying their contractors working at government sites, the small businesses may not get paid – possibly forcing some to close shop.

Trump tweeted “Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal. Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built. We have done a lot of work. $5.6 Billion Dollars that House has approved….” The USMCA trade deal [which has not been approved by any of the 3 governments] mentions nothing about paying for the wall and any money that comes from the deal must be approved by the House and Senate.

In addition, what part of the Trump Wall was built or renovated? Initial estimate said over $20 billion was required to build the Trump Wall and fix already built walls. Most likely none of the Trump Wall has been built but some was “renovated”. As for the House approving, when? Definitely not $5 billion.

Trump tweeted “The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of ‘Trump,’….” Blah. Blah. Blah. So he thinks that the Democrats are trying to find ways to beat Trump in the 2020 election with all the 2-3 achievements Trump did in the last 2 years.

The American Federation of Government Employees is suing the Trump administration alleged that the government is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by forcing employees deemed essential to work without pay. 420,000 will work without pay due to the shutdown. The union’s president, J. David Cox, called the requirement that some federal employees work without pay “inhumane”.

Trump sought to deflect blame for the deaths of two Guatemalan children in US custody by claiming they were “very sick” when they arrived, even though immigration authorities have said both children passed initial health checks. The mother of the boy who died Christmas Eve told The Associated Press that her son was healthy when he left with his father on their journey hoping to migrate to the US. Attorneys for one of the children’s family have also denied claims that officials “hadn’t given her water in days,” as Trump wrote.

At least one of the laws Trump’s administration has blamed — legislation that prevents the immediate deportation of unaccompanied children from Central American countries — was signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, a Republican.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s border security rhetoric — including the assertion that “any deaths of children” at the border are “strictly the fault of the Democrats” — after a second migrant child died in US custody earlier this month. “They’re being promised something that people can simply not deliver upon.” So the Democrats promised this? When? They must of put up posters and radio ads in Central American countries. Right?

Outgoing chief of staff, John Kelly, claimed in an interview that Trump has toned down his push for a concrete wall over the past year with Kelly claiming he’d accept a wall made of slats, “barrier” or “fencing”. But Trump tweeted back it will be a concrete wall.

Add retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal who have criticized Trump for his approach to the presidency. The former top commander of the US and international forces in Afghanistan label Trump as dishonest and immoral. “I don’t think he tells the truth.” When asked if he thought Trump was immoral, McChrystal responded: “I think he is.”

Took a few days for Trump to respond. “‘General’ McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama,” Trump tweeted. “Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!” McChrystal resigned in 2010 over comments he and his top officers made in an article that belittled other administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. Obama allowed him to retire at his full pay grade.

And then Senator-elect Mitt Romney said that Trump’s behavior since taking office “is evidence that the President has not risen to the mantle of the office.” Should be interesting on how much Romney follows the party or decides to be more independent and go against some of the legislation Trump likes or dislikes.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he would not resign if pressured to do so by Trump. While Trump appointed him and approved by the Senate, there is a clause which states that the Federal Reserve Chairman cannot be fired if a disagreement over policy. So Trump can ask and Powell can refuse. However if Trump did something else [make comments about Trump’s mental state for example], then that would be an excuse.

Vice President Mike Pence and senior political aides may see their paychecks go up soon if Congress does not pass legislation that would extend a pay freeze for those officials, according to documents from the Office of Personnel Management.

After a meeting before the New Year, Trump it seems [and again] back paddled on the idea of removing troops from Syria. But it is unclear if he put the removal on hold or just removing them at a slower pace. Of course, this is Trump, any time within the next 30 days he could completely halt the removal or speed up the removal or denied he ever slowed or halted the removal.

After Trump defended for 18 months that the economy was doing great in the US as what seems to be the only factor, the stock markets in the US had their worst December since 1931. But I’m sure he will blame anybody but himself.

The US national debt stood at $21.974 trillion at the end of 2018, more than $2 trillion higher than when Trump took office, according to numbers released Thursday by the Treasury Department. That’s almost a 10% increase in 2 years.

With Trump’s second anniversary in office coming up this week, what accomplishments can he boast?

  • Economy? While there are less unemployed, the stock market [one of his early boasting] is tanking. There are still plenty of major bankruptcies and job losses.
  • Border security? Nothing. Even with a majority in the House and Senate he couldn’t pass any legislation to fund the Trump Wall.
  • Less taxes? He did this at the end of 2017 for corporations to pay less taxes. This resulted in a higher national debt and limited amount of bonuses passed down to employees while most corporations had higher revenue.
  • Added Supreme Court Justices? Is that considered an achievement? Most tend to be nominated and approved without an issue.
  • Definitely not shutdowns. He can boast that there has been three shutdowns in one year – the first time ever for any President.