Nel's New Day

September 16, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-four – Loss of Supporters and More

People have been asking what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) could do to make his supporters turn on him. Now we know: make friends with Democrats. After two weeks of supporting (sort of) “Chuck and Nancy,” as he calls Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DDT supporters have started to burn their hats. [visual] The last straw for them was his possible protection of hard-working people who were involuntarily brought to the United States and had undergone “extreme” vetting.

Last week people discovered about the hacking of records for 143 million people from consumer credit reporting agency Equifax. Since then, it’s been discovered that three senior executives sold shares for almost $1.8 million after the hack. They said that they didn’t know about the hacking. The company was aware of the flawed security system over two months before the hacking and didn’t make the public aware for a month after the event. The revelation caused a 13-percent drop in the value of the shares. Equifax was hired a year ago for $10 million to “help the SSA manage risk and mitigate fraud for the mySocialSecurity system, a personalized portal for customers to access some of SSA’s services such as the online statement.” DDT can take pride in having the most disastrous hacking thus far in history.

DDT bragged he had the biggest hurricane in history—until someone mentioned climate change. He changed his statement to “we’ve had bigger storms than this,” ignoring history because both Harvey and Irma broke several records.

After the nation’s worst deluge in Hurricane Harvey and the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic with Irma, DDT identified the nation’s real emergency—the need for tax cuts. Perhaps he imagined that people across the nation cried out for swift action in helping billionaires and corporations. DDT’s desperate tweet to Congress:

“With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!”

Bush/Cheney used the excuse of tax cuts for all problems—high gas prices, uninsured people, sluggish economy, strong economy, etc. DDT will be trying to persuade everyone that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will build new homes, operate shelters, and clean up chemical spills that huge companies left in flood areas.

After new DDT friends Sen. “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. “Nancy” Pelosi (D-CA) met with him at a private White House dinner, they reported that he would accept protection for DACA recipients, giving work permits to people involuntarily brought into the U.S., without a demand for the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Republicans were incensed, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DDT didn’t make that agreement. The following day, DDT “clarified” his agreement with Chuck and Nancy:

6:11 am (Twitter): “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”

8:26 am (reporters): “[T]he wall will come later.”

11:06 am (reporters): “Very important is the wall. We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed because without the wall I wouldn’t do anything… It doesn’t have to be here but they can’t obstruct the wall if it’s in a budget or anything else.”

4:18 pm (reporters): “[I]f the Democrats aren’t going to approve it [money for the wall], then we’re not going to do what they want… DACA now and the wall very soon, but the wall will happen.”

DDT’s response to the tragic attack in London this past week before anyone knew the source:

“These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

He either released classified information about the attack or was just blathering as usual. No matter which, he again alienated the UK; their officials called DDT’s tweet “unhelpful.”

DDT’s MO for the past months has been alienating democratic allies and sucking up to autocratic dictators. This week he hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, currently the subject of a DOJ corruption probe regarding misappropriations of billions of dollars from a government fund he controlled. In exchange, Razak and his large contingent dropped their money at the DDT-leased Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Without occupancy currying DDT’s favor, the hotel would increase its 56-percent vacancy rate in an area that has almost 50 percent less. At least he gets $18,750 per night for the “Trump Townhouse” suite. Being elected has made money for DDT. Unfortunately, it’s unconstitutional.

Attempts to discover government expenditures at DDT’s property began with only one short report, the federal payment of $1,092 for a room at Mar-a-Lago for two nights during DDT’s visit in March with “National Security Council as the occupant.”

Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security advisor, may have lobbied on behalf of foreign countries to build 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East while paid by the White House. Backers said that the Gulf Arab states would fully fund the project. Flynn also failed to report payments from Russian entities. Flynn’s son, Michael Jr., is also being investigated by Robert Mueller as part of the Russian interference in the 2016 election. A man who showed up at a Washington pizza place with a rifle because Jr. had spread the lie that it was a front for Hillary Clinton’s sex trafficking. He also smeared Clinton aide Huma Abedin with the lie that she was connected to the Muslim brotherhood and pushed the falsehood that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a closet gay man who abuses cocaine. DDT fired Flynn Jr. before his father was shown the door. Mueller is also targeting Paul Manafort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai.

The Office of Government Ethics briefly permitted Russia—and anyone else—to anonymously donate to legal defense funds for White House staffers. Public outcry forced OGE to reinstate the ban.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, a Ronald Reagan appointee, blocked DDT’s rules to keep funding from so-called “sanctuary” cities in a nationwide preliminary injunction against the DOJ. AG Jeff Sessions had said that a grant to local law enforcement for training and supplies applies only “to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48-hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is again opposing DDT after his vote against the ACA “repeal and replace”—this time objecting to DDT’s ban on transgender military members. In backing the bipartisan bill to block DDT’s ban, McCain explained its rationale:

“When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country. Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender.”

One reason for selling off public land is to make money for the government. Auctioning off oil drilling rights on approximately 7,000 acres of a bird habitat to avoid endangered species garnered the government $14,837. That pays for 0.005 percent of one DDT’s trip to Mar-a-Lago. “America” is for sale.

DDT’s DOJ is reversing a program to improve trust between law enforcement and communities. Sessions, who supports DDT’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, wants to “fulfill my commitment to respect local control and accountability.” The purpose of the rescinded program was to determine any systemic problems in troubled police departments. Sessions has already told federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible given military equipment to state and local police.

It has come to light that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, worth about one-half billion dollars, wanted taxpayers to pick up the tab for his honeymoon transportation by letting him take a government jet to Scotland, France, and Italy. Mnuchin has been called the “foreclosure king,” even foreclosing on a 90-year-old widow who owned his company $.27. He and Louise Linton weren’t permitted the plane that would have cost $25,000 an hour, and they are being investigated for using a government plane to watch the eclipse in Kentucky. DDT explained about his request that his administrative officials “had to give up a lot to take these jobs.”

Senators unanimously passed a resolution condemning white supremacy and asking DDT to “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.” The resolution also asks AG Jeff Sessions and DHS to investigate “all acts of violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism” by white supremacists, white nationalists or associated groups and prevent them “from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.” The House passed the joint resolution with a voice vote. DDT signed the resolution after he had a talk with the only GOP black senator, Tim Scott (R-SC). (Two of the GOP House members are black.) According to DDT, he told Scott:

“[Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and I] had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said.”

DDT’s use of “other side” for people opposing the neo-Nazis whenever he talks about Charlottesville (VA) begs the question: does he identify with the white supremacists against the “other side”? Called a “white supremacist” by ESPN host Jemele Hill, DDT trashed the network and called for an apology from Hill. At least DDT didn’t go as far as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who said that the white supremacists at Charlottesville (VA) were actors hired by liberals to make neo-Nazis look bad.

And there’s more—later!

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September 13, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-three – Natural Disasters Mixed with GOP Disappointment

Disaster—that is the word for 33rd week that Dictator Donald Trump spent as the White House resident. Houston suffered from Hurricane Harvey as Hurricane Irma, considered five times worse than Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago, ploughed through islands south of Florida and moved across the mainline to devastate large parts of southern states. Hackers into Equifax, one of the principal credit score providers in the nation, collected records, including Social Security numbers and birthdates allowing identity theft, from 143 million people. They also got credit card numbers from over 200,000 people and dispute documents with personal information for another 182,000 customers.

Between Harvey and Irma came the 8.1 earthquake on the southern coast of Mexico, the worst in 100 years, that killed at least 95 people. The death rate was much lower than the estimated 2,000 to 40,000 deaths with the 8.0 earthquake in Mexico because of better building codes and less populated areas for the earthquake’s site. A similar earthquake possible for southwestern California could kill thousands of people and be worsened if the proposed 2018 budget cuts funds for a seismic warning system as proposed. DDT ignored both the earthquake and the loss of at least three people after Hurricane Katia hit Mexico. Three weeks ago, DDT also refused to send any fire-fighting aid to Oregon although its 500,000 burning acres comprise one-third of the fires in the nation.

Congressional GOP members were devastated when (DDT) turned on them and made “Chuck and Nancy”—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (left) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), his new friends. DDT’s old friends “Paul” Ryan (R-WI), House Speaker, and “Mitch” McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader, got left in the dust at a meeting where DDT gave Democrats three-month extensions on the budget and the debt ceiling as well as the $15 billion disaster aid with no cuts in other areas. An hour earlier, Ryan had called the three-month debt-ceiling extension “ridiculous,” “disgraceful,” and “unworkable, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also disliked the deal. The GOP will face another fight for the budget and debt ceiling before the December 8, 2017 deadline.

Pundits’ theories on why DDT agreed to the deal: he got bored, he thought conservatives wanted it, he thought it would clear the way for progress as in tax “cuts,” or he’s just hostile toward congressional GOP leadership. DDT’s support of North Dakota’s Democratic senators up for re-election this year at his rally last week supports the last idea. A question is how much longer the GOP will protect DDT.

DDT’s deal with Schumer and Pelosi moved so fast that he signed the bill into law within three days. Seventeen GOP senators and 90 GOP representative Republicans voted against it, including four House members from storm-ravaged Texas. Another 17 GOP representatives refused to vote. With GOP support, however, hurricane aid passed 88 days faster than it did for Superstorm Sandy.

Billionaire Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney were booed when they advocated for the bill; Mulvaney had led opposition to raising the debt ceiling when he was in the House. The booing continued after he wouldn’t promise Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that DDT would not commit to reducing the debt ceiling in the December negotiations. Mnuchin left early after he said that people should support the bill for him personally and not for the policy. Ryan forgot he hated the bill and supported the legislation.

DDT rescinded DACA (the executive order allowing people illegally brought into the country involuntarily as children to get job permits) but made AG Jeff Sessions make the announcement. Sessions claimed that his job is to “enforce the law” and then defended DDT’s pardon of Arizona’s past sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt after he willfully violating a federal judge’s order to stop racial profiling. Unable to cope with his unpopularity after his anti-DACA ruling, DDT blamed Congress and said that he was just waiting for them to fix his own firing of 800,000 people so that they will take the hit from conservative voters.

Congress is willing to use millions of lives as extortion. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wants to trade legal permanent dreamers’ residence for cutting immigration levels in half. Others want to trade the dreamers’ rights for DDT’s wall. Over 400 executives, many of them from the biggest companies such as AT&T and Microsoft, have signed a petition to protect the “dreamers.”  These CEOs know that purchases from Dreamers create more jobs and more profits for these companies that are the strongest base for GOP donations. Even members of DDT’s evangelical advisory board, who supported his racism, think that DDT’s DACA decision is wrong. Sixty-four percent of people in the U.S. back this program, including 41 percent of Republicans. And workers are needed to rebuild after massive losses from the nation’s disasters. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are suing DDT for his DACA decision. An earlier lawsuit supporting DACA has a court hearing tomorrow. DDT has one fewer DACA recipient to throw out of the country: Alonso Guillen, 31, died rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey.

Special investigator Robert Mueller’s juggernaut about Russian involvement keeps moving forward as six current and former DDT aides, including Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, may be interviewed. DDT tortured Spicer as much as, or more than, Saturday Night Live, as the press secretary was constantly forced to lie—beginning with the size of the inauguration crowd on DDT’s first day. The firing of former FBI director James Comey was a huge fiasco as Spicer passed along the party line of a DOJ recommendation for the act just before DDT told Lester Holt that he had long planned to fire Comey with “Russia” on his mind. DDT also tormented Priebus up to the time that he resigned. Both can use the Fifth Amendment not to testify, but there are always memos. Even the White House lawyer needs a lawyer.

DDT’s statement that he will give $1 million to relief aid for Hurricane Harvey as brought back the question of the donations to his inauguration fund that he said would be given to charities. The committee raised $107 million with no caps on individual contributions and selling “exclusive access” for over $1 million, but low attendance kept costs down. Charities were supposed to know who gets the money in April, but now Tom Barrack, head of the committee said that he will release details in November. Maybe the $1 million of DDT’s “personal money” will come from that source—or maybe it will go for Donald Trump, Jr.’s legal fees like DDT’s campaign funds. [$1 million sounds generous, but if DDT is worth $9 billion, it’s like a person with $1 million in net assets giving $90. Millionaires comprise less than ten percent of people in the U.S.]

Donald Jr. needs the legal assistance he’s getting from DDT’s campaign funds. This past week, he was interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee about his meeting over a year ago with Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton before the presidential election. He said that he was just checking into her “fitness” for the office. This was after a number of various excuses earlier.

Another DDT problem is the NAFTA negotiations. DDT has said that Canada and Mexico are being “difficult”; Canada is demanding that the U.S. eliminate anti-union “right-to-work” laws and pressuring both Mexico and the U.S. “to offer a year of paid family leave, as Canada does.” In the U.S., 29 states have passed laws eliminating rights of unions, and congressional Republicans have sponsored bills to make “right to work” in all states that will suppress wages, employment, and economic growth. DDT has already cut pay increases for federal employees, overturned overtime pay and worker safety rules, and put union-busters on the National Labor Relations Board which is supposed to protect workers. Trade agreements typically favor corporations over workers; Canada is trying to change that dynamic.

Pushed to the bottom of immediate concerns from the media is North Korea’s claim that it has a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. Experts think that the bomb is actually a “boosted” atomic bomb with less power than a hydrogen bomb, but the U.S. is still goading North Korea with its summer “games.” The U.S. has joined Japan and South Korea in large-scale military drills with over 3,500 troops to simulate an invasion of North Korea and destroy the current regime. Last week’s North Korean missile tests were in response to South Korea’s three week-long military drills with over 75,000 combat troops accompanied by hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, landing craft, heavy artillery, a full naval flotilla and flyovers by squadrons of state of the art fighters and strategic bombers.

DDT expects help from South Korea to protect the U.S. from North Korea after he lied about sending military resources to help them, ignored history by saying that they were part of China, told them that they had to pay for the U.S. missile-defense system, threatened to eliminate the trade agreement with South Korea, and failed to nominate an ambassador to South Korea.  After alienating Europe, DDT is also going to them for help. DDT’s following through on his threat to stop trade with countries doing business with North Korea would be “an economic tsunami beyond description,” according to NPR’s Ron Elving, and former George W. Bush staffer Taylor Griffin called the economic impact “apocalyptic.” The value of trade between China and the U.S. alone is $663 billion—and DDT’s purchases are part of that amount.

Chief of Staff John Kelly seems to be quieting DDT for the past weeks, but he got his cellphone back tonight when he railed against “Crooked Clinton” about her new book. We’ll wait to see if it’s the recurring trend.

 

August 31, 2017

DDT Doesn’t Always Win

While Hurricane Harvey continues to destroy a large part of Texas and surrounding areas, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) moves toward his personal disaster. Despite adamant claims that he had no business dealings with Russia during his campaign, he signed a “letter of intent” on October 28, 2015 to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and ask for money from a Russian bank—four months after he declared his candidacy.  Then-Trump Organization Chief Counsel Michael Cohen said that he told DDT three times about the Moscow proposal.

Other Russian issues:

  • Special counsel Robert Mueller has joined N.Y. AG Eric Schneiderman. Three reasons: DDT cannot pardon state crimes; Schneiderman can continue the investigation if DDT fires Mueller; and DDT can’t take information from Schneiderman.
  • Felix Sater, Russian-born real estate broker involved in Trump businesses, wrote emails in 2015 to set up a deal for a Moscow Trump Tower and promised that he can get Putin to “get Donald elected.”
  • Cohen wrote Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, for help.
  • Rinat Akhmetshin, Russian lobbyist and “former” spy, appeared before special investigator Robert Mueller’s grand jury on August 11. He had attended the meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. and others, including Paul Manafort and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner,to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton before the presidential election. Jr. may be testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee this coming week. (DDT called its chair, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to tell him how much he loves ethanol, important to Grassley’s constituency.)
  • Mueller has sent Paul Manafort more subpoenas.
  • DDT’s deputy chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, tried to arrange a meeting in June 2016 between DDT’s campaign and Putin. Dearborn was also working for then Sen. Jeff Sessions while he received $28,000 from DDT’s campaign.
  • DDT campaign adviser George Papadopoulos also emailed campaign officials in March 2016 about arranging meetings with Russians.
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will vote in favor of the releasing the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson on the DDT dossier about Russian connections. With his support, the Democrats may be successful in this action.
  • Officials at the CIA Counterintelligence Mission Center are carefully watching CIA director, Mike Pompeo, out of concern that he may protect DDT at the cost of the Russian—and DDT—investigation.

DDT’s pardon for “Sheriff Joe”:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) may have gotten a spinal implant—or is just fed up with DDT attacking him—when he disagreed with the presidential pardon for former Multnomah County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Ryan’s speaker, Doug Andres, said that “the speaker does not agree with the decision.”

When DDT pardoned “Sheriff Joe,” he probably didn’t know that an acceptance of the pardon is an admission of guilt of the crime, according to the 1915 Supreme Court ruling in Burdick v. United States. Arpaio cannot be tried for that crime again, but the pardon may leave him open to hundreds of civil suits. He had intended to appeal the court’s decision.

Blocking a federal judge’s ruling that enforced the Constitution for a person who swore to defend the Constitution shows DDT’s open contempt for the U.S. Constitution. Over 150 people, mostly current and former judges and lawyers, protested outside the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix (AZ) in well above 100 degrees against the pardon.The judge, Susan Bolton, has ordered DOJ to file a memo and scheduled a hearing for October 4 when the pardoning team may argue why Arpaio deserves to be pardoned. The prosecution can argue publicly about his extensive crimes, including his concentration camp (Arpaio’s words), inmate torture, refusal to investigate sex crimes against Latina children, and women shackled while giving birth. Another issue is the 160 people who died in his jails with no reason for abusive guards and missing oversight.

DDT retweeted a lie from Fox’s Katie Pavlich that President Obama had pardoned Chelsea Manning, who “gave U.S. enemies state secrets,” according to Pavlich. In fact, President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence after she had served seven years. Journalist Pavlich complained that the media was “squabbling” about the difference between “pardon” and “commute.”

Differences with staff and world leaders:

  • The President of the United States typically speaks for the nation, but Secretary of State said that DDT “speaks for himself” about “the American people’s values or the commitment … to advancing those values and defending those values.” Tillerson was responding to a question about the United Nations’ criticism regarding DDT’s response to Charlottesville (VA) and the White House’s “failure at the highest political level to unequivocally reject and condemn the racist violent events and demonstrations.”
  • Last week, chief economic advisor Gary Cohn said that the White House “can and must do better” to condemn racist groups and should “do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis told troops that they needed “to hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.” After that he announced that transgender troops in the military can serve pending the results of a study “which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law.” LGBT groups Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN have joined the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and GLAD to sue the government because of DDT’s rejection of transgender service members. DDT will have to prove that transgender people in the military affects “our readiness, ability to fight, and lethality.”
  • Payment for “the wall” is still a bone of contention. In January, DDT knew that Mexico wouldn’t pay for the wall when he begged Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to not tell anybody because it would make him look bad. Recently, DDT tweeted that Mexico would pay, and its foreign ministry answered, “Our country will not pay, under any circumstances, for a wall.” DDT is also whining that Mexico, along with Canada, is being “very difficult” about NAFTA after DDT called Mexico “one of the highest crime nations in the world.”
  • During his press conference with Finland’s Sauli Niinisto this week, DDT talked about the “purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft from Boeing [and] lots of other military equipment.” Niiniso denied the purchase.

Good news from Arizona:

Seven years after a racist state school superintendent closed down a popular Tucson Mexican-American Studies program that kept students in school, U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled that the ban was enacted with discriminatory intent. Created in 1998, the Tucson program focused on Mexican-American history, literature, and art. Participating students outdid the other students in grades and standardized test results. The part of a law banning classes for students of a specific ethnic group was struck down. Tasimo had harsh words about former state education leaders Tom Horne and John Huppenthal who helped pass the law in 2010.:

“Additional evidence shows that defendants were pursuing these discriminatory ends in order to make political gains. Horne and Huppenthal repeatedly pointed to their efforts against the MAS program in their respective 2011 political campaigns, including in speeches and radio advertisements. The issue was a political boon to the candidates.”

More good news:

  • Opposing DDT, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution “condemning the violence and racist beliefs” of “abhorrent white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017, that led to loss of life and numerous injuries.” The resolution also cited the founding of the GOP “in the struggle against slavery and a rejection of the racial beliefs underlying the institution of slavery.”
  • The DOJ withdrew its warrant for 1.3 million visitor records to a site protesting DDT’s inauguration. District of Columbia Superior Court Chief Judge Robert E. Morin approved a new warrant with more limits with the requirement that the data not be disseminated outside the DOJ and will supervise the government.
  • A federal court unanimously struck down Texas’ unconstitutional voter ID law because it discriminated against Latinos and blacks and violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The state must redraw its districting maps before the 2018 election, and the federal government may start overseeing the state’s voting procedures. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has put a hold on the court ruling until September 5.
  • Judge Orlando L. Garcia of United States District Court for the Western District of Texas temporarily blocked Texas’ ban on so-called sanctuary cities supposed to go into effect tomorrow. The law allows police to question the immigration status of anyone and threaten fines, jail, and removal from office for officials. The state’s largest cities—including Houston—are suing to strike down the law.
  • The DOJ support for a lawsuit against DDT’s religious liberty executive order claims that the order doesn’t allow churches and other religious groups to take political action that other charities cannot.
  • DDT rejected requests from coal magnate Robert Murray and billionaire Carl Icahn despite their huge donations to his campaign. Murray wanted to use emergency powers to keep coal-fired power plants open, and Icahn wanted a change to an EPA ethanol rule to profit his oil refining company. Icahn resigned from DDT’s administration. Murray is suing John Oliver for his reporting on the coal mine owner. (Catch this clip before Murray succeeds with his gag order!) Will Jim Justice, coal billionaire and West Virginia governor turned Republican from Democrat recently, get his $4.5 billion annually to pay utilities $15 per ton for Appalachian coal burned?
  • The American Legion adopted a resolution Thursday urging the federal government to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss and recommend medical marijuana in states where it’s legal.
  • Illinois has become the tenth state—20 percent of the nation—to adopt automatic voter registration in just two years since Oregon became the first state with this registration procedure.

The stock market is still climbing, but board members and executives at the top six U.S. banks are now consistently selling their own banks’ shares.

Another cover to post at DDT’s golf courses from Germany’s Der Spiegel.

[The article, “Das wahre Gesicht des Donald Trump”: “The true face of Donald Trump.”]

August 5, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Eight – New Sheriff in Town, Lawsuits

Catchup on State Department policies: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to not spend Congress-allocated $79.8 million for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation. All he needed to do was issue a memo of request for $60 million at the Pentagon and another $19.8 at the State Department. The money is lost if Tillerson doesn’t meet the September 30 deadline. Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond said that funding programs to oppose Russian media influence might anger Vladimir Putin.

A note on the proposed “merit-based” immigration bill: Amy Goodman points out that the requirements would have eliminated Friedrich Drumpf, grandfather of the man inaugurated as president in January; great-grandparents of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, proponent of the bill at the press conference; great-grandfather of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DTT) counsel and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

The most surprising action taken in Congress before they went home at the end of the week was to block Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) from making any recess appointments. There is no recess although Congress is gone for a month. In the past Republicans blocked President Obama from making appointments through this tactic, but DDT is supposedly their own president. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) locked in nine “pro-forma” sessions each lasting about minute. Every senator had to agree to accomplish this move. They did—just before they left town a week before they promised.

DDT has decided to attack congressional Republicans after they took other actions against him such as limiting his ability to change sanctions against foreign countries—especially Russia—and introducing a bill that would also limit his ability to fire the special investigator. DDT’s tweets:

“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us [healthcare]!”

On the first day of John Kelly as Chief in Staff and the last day of Anthony Scaramucci as Communications Director, the media reported that DDT dictated the memo stating that his son, Jr., had discussed only adoption in the son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer on June 9, 2016. The meeting was really about the DDT campaign obtaining “incriminating” information about Hillary Clinton. DDT had claimed that he knew nothing about the meeting, but he knew enough to dictate the nuanced, misleading memo that had to be revised several times as further information was revealed. Then DDT’s legal mouthpiece, Jay Sekulow, claimed that the president wasn’t involved in the memo. Summary: DDT’s team tries to collude with Russia; the president dictates a memo to lie to the public; and DDT’s lawyer tries to lie about DDT’s memo. Two days after Sekulow denied the participation on the part of DDT, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary, announced that DDT had “weighed in, offered suggestions, like any father would do.”

The Harvard Law School may have been prescient about Scaramucci’s firing. The new alumni directory has reported him as deceased. His lost job may force Scaramucci to pay capital gains if he makes $77 million from selling his company. If he had kept his job, he could have claimed that he was forced to divest any assets from a conflict of interest. The New York Post has also updated its cover.

DDT may have hired Scaramucci, but Kelly fired him, repeating the belief that DDT doesn’t fire anyone, not even on his former television program, The Apprentice.  Kelly is the first military man to occupy his position since Richard Nixon of Watergate fame hired Alexander Haig. Kelly had clarified that he is in charge and that everyone in the staff clears policy proposals, personnel recommendations, and advice from outsiders through him. The question is whether that includes those family meetings in the evening with DDT’s children and son-in-law.

Kelly also managed to fire another of Michael Flynn’s hires, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who had stayed because of support from white supremacist Steve Bannon and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner despite protests from National Security Defense Adviser H.R. McMaster. Cohen-Watnick, the third Iran hawk to go recently, had leaked classified information to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), who then supposedly leaked the information back to the White House in a plot to falsely show that President Obama had eavesdropped on DDT.

Kelly’s background is supposedly discipline, and people on the left are saying that he’s a “great guy.” Yet he comes with his own baggage, most recently as “enabler-in-chief” in supporting the Muslim ban and deportation of innocent people after DDT had bragged about getting rid of the “bad hombres.” His history includes supervising Guantanamo prison during its times of torture. He may also go after the press because he has called leaks “close to treason.” Kelly also has a problem with understanding the Constitution: he has repeated the myth to Coast Guard cadets that the presidential oath of office was thrown together moments before George Washington was sworn in. He should read the U.S. Constitution—specifically Article II, Clause 8—that cites the oath.

The federal government is being inundated with lawsuits because of DDT’s cabinet secretaries and other officials. This week the D.C. circuit court ruled that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt can’t delay Obama-era rules on fracking. The decision against Pruitt reaffirms a previous one from July. Other lawsuits against the EPA:

  • Eleven states: delaying rules to prevent dangerous chemical spills.
  • The NRDC: not enforcing punishments on Clean Water Act violators.
  • Health and agriculture groups: postponement of a pesticide decision that poisoned farmworkers.
  • Maryland: allowing Pennsylvania’s coal pollution to cross its border.
  • Judicial Watch: spreading propaganda on its social media accounts.
  • Youth: DDT’s inaction on climate change that places health and financial burdens on future generations.

Seven states and a dozen health and labor groups have also filed an administrative court challenge against the EPA after its refusal to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a poisonous pesticide, on crops.

As of a week ago, the Brennan Center for Justice reported at least 17 legal actions against DDT’s new commission to suppress voting by collecting and assessing state voting lists. Although two lawsuits have failed in court, new ones use DDT’s own words and tweets in claims that he created the commission to back up his false theory that voter fraud is a massive problem. This case in Florida has caused the commission’s chair, VP Mike Pence, to tell states that they should wait to send him information until the case’s resolution.

San Diego may take DDT to court after DHS plans to bypass 37 environmental and other laws to build 15 miles of his “wall.” Legally, the agency can do this, but it plans to dodge environmental assessments of endangered species, migratory bird conservation, and the Clean Air Act. DDT has been allotted $1.6 billion which he hopes will pay for 74 of the 2,000 miles. DHS is paying $20 million for funding prototypes.

Chicago plans to sue DDT’s DOJ for withholding public safety grant money from so-called “sanctuary cities” with the claim that the federal government cannot legally take this action. AG Jeff Sessions had claimed that cities must claim that they are not sanctuary cities to get funds from the federal Byrne JAG grants. Sessions’ newly added mandates are to allow ICE access to detention facilities and provide ICE 48 hours’ notice before releasing “an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.” He isolated four cities for punishment: Albuquerque, Baltimore, San Bernardino, and Stockton (CA).

DDT is also involved in a lawsuit by Paid Fox News commentator Rod Wheeler, who is suing Fox, reporter Malia Zimmerman, and DDT supporter Ed Butowsky for fabrications regarding its “political agenda for the Trump administration.” Wheeler alleges that Fox briefed DDT in advance about the false “news” report that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich provided documents to WikiLeaks. Fox tried to use the “fake news” to distract from DDT campaign’s collusion with Russia. Fox & Friends and Hannity pushed the story for weeks, and DDT pushed it to be released immediately because he was being scrutinized for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The biggest news about DDT and Russia this week is a D.C. grand jury as well asking the White House for documents connected to Michael Flynn and considering senior FBI officials as possible witnesses. Special investigator is using this grand jury as well as one in Virginia. In a case about obstruction of justice, the White House may be a crime scene. The D.C. grand jury has already sent subpoenas connected to the meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others concerning damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

How low has the person inaugurated has U.S. president sunk? Available on Amazon is toilet paper with DDT’s tweets for $11.99. A roll with DDT’s face is cheaper–$5.99.

DDT isn’t the only world leader in trouble. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is a suspect in fraud investigations, and his former chief of staff plans to testify against him. Accusations are favors in return for positive newspaper coverage and accepting bribes from Arnon Milchan in exchange for lobbying for a visa for the billionaire. There may be a contest to see whether DDT or Netanyahu does down first.

August 2, 2017

Congress, DDT Leaving D.C. with Little to Show

The House left Washington, D.C. last week for an extended vacation, but not after they did a bit of harm. In an article for Nation, “Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump a Blank Check for Endless War,” John Nichols refers to the House Speaker’s stripping an amendment from the defense budget that unanimously passed in committee. He did it after midnight and with no debate, floor vote, or consultation with anyone except the GOP House leadership. The U.S. Constitution does not give the president power to wage war, but Congress passed a 60-word bill allowing the president to send military forces against groups linked to the 9/11 attacks. DDT no longer restricts his hostile actions against countries throughout the world to fighting ISIS. The amendment would have required Congress to following the constitution by reverting to congressional approval for military action. It even has support from within the Pentagon. Even General Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants the 2001 law revoked.

The title of the article, however, could have been far more general: it could have been just “Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump.” Republicans in the House have been largely mum after DDT’s egregious actions and proposals. Even when DDT suggested that he could pardon his family, his associates, and himself, few GOP representatives objected. To accept pardons from the president, people had to admit that they committed the crimes for which they are pardoned. Thus DDT is considering the admission that he committed crimes, but little word from Republicans in the House.

When Democrats requested documents in the House Judiciary Committee about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) flipped the proposal into an amendment to ask the Justice Department for documents related to Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email service. The witch hunt is back on to divert attention away from DDT’s Russia collusion. In the new administration, only GOP congressional members are permitted to asked for any documents; no Democrats need apply. The committee passed Gaetz’s amendment on a partisan vote of 16-13.

A failure in the House is the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that state attorneys general can defend subsidy payments to the insurance industry for certain health care consumers. The GOP House sued in 2014 to stop these payments because Congress had not approved a specific appropriation, and DDT threatens to block the funding because Trumpcare failed. The insurance industry warned that instability could cause a 20-percent increase in premiums for 2018.

The House did buck DDT’s wishes when it passed—by 419-3!—increased sanctions on Russia and decreased presidential authority to change these sanctions. The Senate had already passed the bill by 98-2. The bill also includes sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Ukraine. Furious about the bill, DDT waited a week to sign the bill into law with no ceremony but declared has “clearly unconstitutional provisions.” This from the man who has violated the constitution in so many ways. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the bill will not “be helpful to our efforts.” Russian president Vladimir Putin is so angry that he reduced the U.S. diplomatic staff by 755 people, matching the number of diplomatic Russians in the U.S., and seized two properties used by U.S. diplomats.

Another irritant for DDT may be the Senate bill to protect special investigator, Robert Mueller. Any firing of a special counsel would demand judicial review if the bill passes by a veto-proof margin.

On the other side of Congress, senators have decided to go home tomorrow, or Friday at the latest, after Trumpcare went down in flames. (For a bit of satire regarding the upshot of the Senate Trumpcare vote, check out Andy Borowitz’s column about DDT supporters’ fury for still having healthcare.) In the midst of Trumpcare trauma, they planned to stay into their typical August recess until August 11th. The House is gone, however, and DDT plans to head out tomorrow if the flight restrictions around Bedminster (NJ) from August 3-20 are correct.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has already handed over another blank check from the Judiciary Committee to DDT by not requiring DDT associates—eldest son, Don Jr; son-in-law Jared Kushner; and former campaign manager Paul Manafort—to testify. They just “talked” and gave the committee some documents. One topic from the disappeared subpoenas was the once-secret meeting with a growing number of Russians when Jr, Kushner, and Manafort hoped to get dirt on Clinton. Grassley is also trying to prove that the former intelligence officer who prepared the dossier on Russian meddling really works for Russia, once again in a struggle to protect DDT.

The failure of Trumpcare in the Senate—thanks to “no” votes against it from GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), John McCain (AZ), and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—was followed by a failure for AG Jeff Sessions. The Appropriations Committee blocked the DOJ spending anything to undermine state medical marijuana laws. When Sessions isn’t trying to collect and keep money from innocent people picked up by the police, he has been salivating about destroying state laws regarding cannabis. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has proposed a bill to legalize cannabis because of its ability to solve the opioid abuse and relieve one racist approach toward imprisonment. GOP control of Congress will block Booker’s bill at this time, but approval of cannabis use is growing across the nation. Its use should be legal, according to 61 percent of people in the U.S., and 88 percent favor medical marijuana use. Another 71 percent oppose efforts to stop sales and use in states where it is legal, and 65 percent think that marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. In short, the vast majority of people disagree with Sessions.

The GOP senators have hit rock bottom after the failure of Trumpcare: they are offering to work with Democrats. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Health Committee chair, will hold bipartisan hearings when Congress comes back in September to develop a short-term proposal to strengthen individual markets for the Affordable Care Act by mid-September. Female, Democrat Patty Murray (WA) will have a place at the negotiating table for the first time with Alexander’s decision. A bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, consisting of 43 senators from both parties, praised Alexander for his initiative. Insurers are required to sign contracts by the end of September to sell plans on the exchanges.

Christopher Wray—DDT’s pick for FBI director—has been confirmed, but five senators voted against him. Two of them are from Oregon, making me very proud. After the illegal closing of the George Washington Bridge, Wray defended New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Wray hid Christie’s cellphone, and Christie escaped a guilty verdict. Wray’s law firm represents Russia-owned energy companies, and Wray deleted his representation of an energy company executive in a criminal investigation by Russian authorities from his biography. His career has been spent in defending criminals, not pursuing them, i.e., a major Swiss bank accused of laundering money for terrorists. In the history of confirming FBI directors, only one other senator has ever voted against a director. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against James Comey because of surveillance issues.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) should be praised for introducing the Dream Act of 2017 granting legal status and a path to citizenship for DREAMers. Eight out of ten voters, including more than 7 in 10 Republicans, believe DREAMers should be allowed to remain in the US legally. Ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next 10 years, and remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy.

The question now is what will happen on October 1 if the House doesn’t get around to passing the budget and increasing the debt ceiling. The Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29. A shutdown means a stock market crash, surging interest rates, disruption to the world’s financial system, and a recession. Twelve days.

 

July 19, 2017

DDT Dominates Media–Again

The interview of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by a New York Time report sucked the energy out of any other news today, perhaps for good reason because of the outrageous–and false–statements he made:

  • If he had known that current AG Jeff Sessions would have accused himself from the Russia investigation, he would not have appointment Sessions for his position. [Is the U.S. now on resignation watch for Sessions?]
  • The investigation in Russia’s involvement in the United States—including DDT’s campaign—suffers from conflicts of interest because the lead investigator, Robert Mueller, interviewed for FBI director. DDT claims for have far more conflicts of interest about Mueller that he will reveal “at some point.”
  • Mueller would cross a “red line” if he looks into DDT’s family finances.
  • Rod Rosenstein was wrong for appointing Mueller as special prosecutor because he’s only a “deputy,” and DDT was irritated after he learned that Rosenstein was from Baltimore. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any.”
  • He complained that Mr. Rosenstein had in effect been on both sides when it came to Mr. Comey. The deputy attorney general recommended Mr. Comey be fired but then appointed Mr. Mueller, who may be investigating whether the dismissal was an obstruction of justice. “Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”
  • Former FBI director James Comey lied in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony—according to DDT. Also Comey told DDT about the salacious allegations against him to gain leverage with DDT.

Senate Democrats need to be careful about voting to confirm Christopher Wray, a lawyer with a past in supporting money laundering and torture, for the FBI director. Wray gave all the right answers in his confirmation hearings, but so did others such as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who reversed their opinions the instant that they were confirmed. During his interview with the NYT, DDT delivered revisionist history about the FBI when he stated that the director reported “out of courtesy” to the Department of Justice during Richard Nixon’s presidential term. DDT said that “the FBI person really reports directly to the President of the United States.” The FBI website states:

“Within the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI is responsible to the attorney general, and it reports its findings to U.S. Attorneys across the country. The FBI’s intelligence activities are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence.”

The president can fire the FBI director, as DDT proved a few months ago, but he can’t tell him what to do. DDT followed his falsehood with the statement, “I think we’re going to have a great new FBI director.” That discussion was interrupted by the appearance of DDT’s daughter, Ivanka, and his granddaughter, Arabella, but the allusion was obvious.

The interview also delved into DDT’s lengthy discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 Summit dinner almost two weeks ago but was just revealed yesterday. That talk had only three people in attendance—DDT, Putin, and Putin’s translator. DDT had no translator, and no one from the United States was a witness. In the interview, DDT described the hour-long conversation as about 15 minutes in length and concentrating on “pleasantries.” He mentioned that it was about adoption, originally given as the focus of a meeting of eight people, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Jr., a year ago. Jr. later said the meeting was really about Russia offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Putin also banned adoptions of Russian children in 2012 because the U.S. sanctioned Russians about human rights abuses.

DDT gave Putin a gift today when he ended the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad. President Obama started the program in 2013 to put pressure on Assad, so DDT accomplished two goals today—pleasing Putin and wiping out another program from the last administration. Putin and DDT had agreed to back the ceasefire in southwest Syria, but the plan did not require the elimination of the training program. Russia has been firing on the CIA-backed rebels fighting against ISIS, and a U.S. official said, “Putin won in Syria.” Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said the DDT’s actions “are making the moderate resistance more and more vulnerable…. We are really cutting them off at the neck.” The U.S. may no longer be able to stop other countries such as Turkey and Middle East allies from providing anti-Assad rebels and other more radical groups with sophisticated weapons. Officials have seen the program as a bargaining chip for Russian concessions about Syria’s future.

The NYT reported:

“The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies.”

No one has any notes from the meeting except for Putin, meaning that the U.S. has no record of discussions, disclosures, and promises. In his first meeting with Putin at G20, DD accepted Putin’s denials of Russian interference and claimed that the U.S. were “exaggerating” the affect of Russia on the presidential election.

Russia also gave DDT permission to name Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and presidential candidate, as ambassador to Russia. His name was tossed out four months ago, but he wasn’t officially nominated until Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met at the State Department with Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon.

Since DDT’s talk with Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering the elimination of his cybersecurity office. The U.S. was the first country to have a high-level cyber diplomat role. This week, Tillerson fired Christopher Painter, the person in this job. Doing away with the position would make the U.S. the only major country without a leader whose job is to reduce cyberattacks, abdicating the role to Russia and China.

DDT’s interview was a distraction from the “no confidence” resolution that 25 Democratic representatives filed today. The resolution has no chance of passing in the GOP-dominated chamber, but it publicizes the 88 reasons for declaring DDT unsuitable to hold his current office. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) defined the resolution as “an attempt at political intervention.” He said that the resolution details “misdeeds and actions that give people lack of confidence in him and the direction he is taking our country.” Among them are DDT’s refusal to release his taxes, verbal attacks on women and the press, withdrawal from a vital climate agreement, payments from foreign powers, firing the FBI director during an investigation, and indiscriminate use of Twitter. Cohen said that DDT’s track record reveals “a president that you wouldn’t want your children to look up to.”

“The way he talks about women, the press, the language he uses, the use of Twitter — you don’t want him to be a role model. It’s injurious to our culture, and it’s injurious to … our foreign policy.”

Co-sponsor Judy Chu (D-CA) said:

“We have a president who actively undermines the very principles of our government, and a Republican Congress that makes excuses for him as though his behaviour were normal. It is not normal. Trump’s behavior is cruel, unethical and it is driving people’s faith in government to dangerously low levels.”

About DDT’s second, just revealed, meeting with Putin, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said, “This is not the behavior of the leader of the free world.”

The Democrats also criticized GOP representative for defending DDT’s actions. A bill to appoint an outside prosecutor has only two Republican supporters, Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Justin Amash (R-MI).  Capitol Hill Republicans for defending Trump’s actions and his unconventional approach to governing.

In today’s news, a major story was Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer. He is indeed fortunate to have excellent health care provided by the government.

July 15, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Five – To Paris with Love, Other Awkward Situations

At the end of the G20 (or G19+1) summit in Hamburg (Germany) just one week ago, leaders of 19 of the world’s largest economies reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accords to slow climate change. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had pushed for wording about how the “USA will endeavor to work closely with other partners to help their access to and use of fossil fuels….” It didn’t wash with the other 19 countries that keep moving forward in trade and climate while the U.S. becomes increasingly on the fringe—just as DDT was at the summit. For example, Japan and Europe have agreed to a huge trade deal covering almost 30 percent of global economy for ten percent of the planet’s population and 40 percent of its trade—comparable to NAFTA. [In this photo, he’s standing far right from the others.]

While DDT was in Poland holding up the West as “civilization,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced his plans for a global environmental summit in San Francisco next year in his speech to over 12,000 environmental activists at the Global Citizen Festival Hamburg. He told his audience that DDT “doesn’t speak” for the United States.

Back to Europe this past week, DDT avoided the Russian scandal surrounding his oldest son with the simple claim that “by son is a wonderful young man,” “he’s a good boy,” and “he’s a good kid.” The “kid” is 39 years old, the same age as DDT’s host in Paris, French president Emmanuel Macron. As usual, DDT behaved like a boor, trying to one-up Macron in handshaking, invading the private space of Macron’s wife Brigitte, and complimenting her on being in “such good physical shape.”  [Full video of the attack here.] Brigitte  Basically DDT played tourist in Paris and again made the United States the laughingstock of the world.

Back in the United States, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was telling a judge to ignore her earlier ruling. In Texas, federal courts ruled three times that the voter ID law is discriminatory. Sessions wrote U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales, who has twice ruled against the law, that she should end all challenges to it and cancel the interim fix agreed to in the state and permit discrimination without penalties. Gonzales will decide whether she will follow his directions.

DDT’s travel ban, partially upheld by the Supreme Court’s decision to limit DDT’s travel ban to “close relatives,” would have sent 1,400 Chaldean Christians back to Iraq to be persecuted and killed without a federal court order. Iraqi leaders said they would take back nationals with outstanding removal orders.  The U.S. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started rounding up these members of a subset of the Catholic Church in early June and designated them for deportation. The federal government argued that courts can’t stop deportations, but U.S. Judge Mark Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the Iraqi nationals may have their day in court.

A federal judge in Hawaii had sent DDT’s travel ban back to court with a ruling that “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States” have a close enough family relationship to allow entry into the United States. Since the Supreme Court ruling permitted only “close” family members, DDT’s definition of “close” that excludes grandparents has caused disbelief throughout the nation.  DDT wants to skip the 9th Circuit Court in its appeals and go directly back to the Supreme Court.

DDT-supporting conservatives claim that “libstards” don’t do anything but stand around and protest. In reality, they go to court. A major lawsuit this week against DDT’s “voter fraud” commission alleges a violation of a federal transparency law because its first “public” meeting is available only through a video livestream. The first meeting was without notice or availability to the public. DDT created the commission because he believed that three to five million undocumented immigrants kept him from winning the popular vote, another issue in the lawsuit. Such committees “will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest, but will instead be the result of the advisory committee’s independent judgment,” according to the ACLU. At this time, at least 46 states have refused to send the commission’s vice-chair, Kris Kobach, all the information that he requested—including his own state of Kansas.

Kobach’s demand for extensive voting information—including birth dates and Social Security numbers—has created a concern for privacy. Some voters are withdrawing their registration. The presidential commission validated this concern: it released 112 unredacted emails of public comment with email address, names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and places of employment. Half the published emails were sent before he publication of an announcement that the emails would be made public.

J. Christian Adams has been appointed to the voting commission. The conservative attorney led efforts throughout the U.S. to purge voters from the rolls through threatening letters and lawsuits against countries that he claims have too many names on the voter rolls. His target is rural counties with large minority populations and areas with Democratic populations in swing states. The commission’s data collection has been stopped in a lawsuit alleging violation of the E-Government Act of 2002, requiring federal agencies to have sufficient data protections before collecting person information through information technology.

DDT’s maybe lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is trying to get rid of the “pussy” grabbing lawsuit against DDT.  The argument is that these statements—made in 2005 and ten years before DDT ran for his current position—are legally protected speech as a level of hyperbole in a political campaign. In other words, this “heated campaign rhetoric” was intended to get votes and thus covered by the First Amendment. Lawyers have used the same excuse in lawsuits about DDT’s Muslim ban, his order on “sanctuary cities,” violence at his campaign rallies, and even fraud allegations in the Trump University case.

Kasowitz may disappear from DDT’s employ because the lawyer selected to defend the Russian collusion scandal can’t even get a security clearance for access to government secrets. Several of Kasowitz’s colleagues have talked about his struggle with alcohol abuse and his risky behavior, sometimes sexual assaulting women. Defense attorneys for Washington clients are frequently required to get security clearances because of classified information. Although Kasowitz has denied these allegations, these emails indicate an unhinged mind.

DDT’s lawyers have difficulty because DDT refuses to follow their advice. In one meeting, they told him to avoid a topic, but he tweeted about it before they got back to their offices. DDT wants the RNC to pay for his legal defense. To avoid a public statement about the issue, the RNC is researching whether any of their funding can pay for expenditures related to Russia.

After being turned down by a variety of other legal firms and lawyers, DDT has hired Ty Cobb as White House special counsel to head up the “war room” regarding DDT’s Russian problems. That makes three lawyers on DDT’s team unless he fires one of them. Cobb will coordinate with lawyers for other DDT associates such as son Don Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner as well a field media questions. Charles Tiefer of Forbes has a variety of questions. Who pays? Does he have control over the DOJ? Can he use executive privilege to obstruct the Russian investigation?  Can he subpoena documents from Congress? What other powers will he have?

DDT’s attempted distracting tweets keep rolling. Last Monday when his son’s Russian meeting was revealed, DDT accused former FBI Director James Comey of revealing classified information in the memos he prepared about meetings with DDT. Comey didn’t. Any “classified information” in the memos were “retroactively classified,” just as Hillary Clinton’s were. One of Comey’s memos now classified was about his encouraging DDT to end the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. The FBI director has authority to declare classified information. DDT got his “information” on Fox and Friends; they retracted the story a day later. DDT didn’t.

This weekend, DDT is at his Bedminster (NJ) resort, tweeting about attending the U.S. Women’s Open there. As the Russian scandal grows, DDT calls it a “hoax,” a word he also used for climate change. He also pushed for the health care bill, Trumpcare, to pass, but it has run into another problem. Two GOP defectors mean that all the other Republican senators must vote for the bill in order for it to pass. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is gone this week after surgery for a blood clot above his eye, and the bill has been postponed for another week, giving it time to become even weaker.

Missing from DDT’s tweets are his problems with the travel ban, his son’s growing problem with Russian collusion (other than Don Jr. is a “good kid”), the ongoing crisis in Qatar, a congressional bill regarding increased sanctions on Russia, continuing issues with North Korea—the list goes on.

That’s DDT’s week—tourism in Paris, vague defense of his oldest son, back to his resort, hiring and ignoring legal defense, and angry tweets.

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

July 2, 2017

DDT Moves BFF from Russia to Saudi Arabia

Weeks ago, several Middle East countries led by Saudi Arabia opened diplomatic war against the tiny country of Qatar. Saudis said that they oppose Qatar’s terrorism, but they have other reasons. Qatar’s wealth from natural gas creates independence from Saudi’s dictates. The exports can also be shipped by sea instead of through pipelines like Saudi oil. Because natural gas comes from the Persian Gulf, Qatar keeps friendly connections with Iran.

In the past, Qatar had close relations with the United States after Saudi Arabia told U.S. forces to leave its country in 2003. The U.S. military base heading operations against ISIS moved to Qatar and houses 11,000 troops at this time. Some of Qatar’s wealth goes to the media service Al Jazeera, which is not always kind about Middle East governments as well as supporting grassroots efforts to overturn autocracies during the Arab Spring. But the power structure in the Middle East is shifting.

After only two years leading Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz has named his son as his replacement  instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulazizto. The transfer to Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was peaceful perhaps because he demanded that the Israelis send 18 fighter jets in case of any measures by bin Nayef. Bin Salman has headed up the country’s military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and U.S. officials expressed concern over his reckless gambles last year with the economy and the Yemen conflicts. His leadership may seriously affect gas prices because he support’s OPEC’s desire to prop up oil prices through limiting worldwide oil production.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had banked on his friendship with Russia to make money, but widespread publicity has caused serious problems with this close relationship. His fawning over Saudi Arabia during his May trip indicates that he may have transferred his allegiance to another country that can provide him great financial gains.

Foreign agents for Russia are disappearing from DDT’s circle, but he started to add at least one with Saudi connections. Richard Hohlt, who earned $430,000 thus far this year as a registered foreign agent lobbying for Saudi Arabia, is DDT’s nominee for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The donor to DDT’s campaign would make recommendations for prestigious White House fellowships. “I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” DDT tweeted last October.  DDT has turned to stocking the swamp.

DDT has shifted his position toward Saudi Arabia in several ways. During his campaign he claimed that the Saudis were behind the 9/11 attacks, and after he was inaugurated, he complained about the U.S. losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.  The U.S. has long known about Saudi Arabia’s terrorism. According to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In September 2014, she wrote that “Qatar and Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistical support to ISIL [Daesh] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The adulation that DDT received during his stay in Saudi Arabia flipped his attitude. He needed a reason for his 180-degree turnabout so he is claiming that the U.S. “can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology.” Another DDT tweet read, “Perhaps it will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.” His position is terrifying other Gulf States that fear the same ostracism as Qatar. Saudi’s goal is to isolate Iran. Bin Salman said, “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.” He claims that Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthis because of Iran although the group has almost no support from Iranians.

The Saudi war in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians because of their targeting hospitals, marketplaces, civilian neighborhoods, and even a funeral for bombing. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has said that these actions “look like war crimes.” Washington has provided the Saudis with cluster munitions, aircraft, and aerial refueling services as well as intelligence on targets. The destruction has blocked aid groups from providing food, medicine, and other essential supplies to civilians suffering from a cholera outbreak and a massive famine. The result is a strengthened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from its increased influence in Yemen.

The Obama administration supported Saudi Arabia to persuade the leaders that the U.S. had not moved over to Iran but backed off after Congress and humanitarian groups opposed the Saudi targeting of Yemen civilians. In December 2016, the U.S. suspended a sale of laser-guided bombs and other munitions to the Saudi military.

The new administration has lifted this suspension despite 47 votes collected from a Senate coalition led by Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY). Defense Secretary James Mattis has advocated far more support for Saudi attacks with intelligence sharing and possible U.S. troops. Mattis had declared that Iran is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” DDT has promised $110 billion worth of arms to the Saudis, about the same as during both President Obama’s terms. That includes over 100,000 bombs like those used on Yemen.

For Saudi Arabia, DDT is the ideal U.S. president if they can overlook his rejection of Muslims and non-white people. He prefers dictatorships to human rights, prizes loyalty above all else (except money), is controlled by fanatically anti-Iran generals, and shows himself to be highly susceptible to flattery. DDT’s missile strikes in Syria put him on the side of Saudi Arabia instead of Syria and prolongs the civil war that the Assad regime will most likely win.

While DDT was making a speech in Saudi Arabia telling people that he is not there “to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be,” Iran’s reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, was re-elected on a platform of combatting extremism and expanding individual freedoms. On the other hand, the Saudis spend tens of millions of dollars to place its violent, extremist version of Islam throughout the world, including the European Union. The Saudi extremist version of Islam, Wahhabi, has been responsible for 96 percent of terrorist casualties since 2001, and Saudis were 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks. Dissent in Saudi Arabia is punishable by beheading—and that includes the press. Saudi Arabia lacks election and imprisons critics,and women are second-class citizens in many ways.

DDT pledged a foreign policy to stay out of the Middle East because past U.S. “foreign interventions unleashed ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya.” (For once, he was right!) In a conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, the Islam world is choosing sides with Russia leading Syria, and Iran. Saudi Arabia expects the United States to lead up the opposition to DDT’s former BFF, Russia. Now the U.S. is taking actions far more hawkish than voters feared from candidate Hillary Clinton. This path will divide Syria into religious/ethnic separations and be in the midst of a global war against Russia.  The U.S. shot down a Syrian army plane, the first such attack in 18 years, and sent more military member to southeast Syria. Despite a claim of staying within a “deconfliction zone,” the troops are over 100 miles from its supposed base. Another 3,000 to 5,000 new troops are destined for Afghanistan. DDT has abdicated his responsibly as commander-in-chief to “Mad Dog” Mattis who got his name from razing Fallujah in Iraq. Other general—National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford—are aiding and abetting.

The generals and DDT are hoping that Congress doesn’t notice that the executive branch cannot constitutionally declare war, but the House has taken a step toward restricting DDT. For years, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced an amendment to the 2018 military spending bill in the Appropriations Committee to require congressional debate and approval for U.S. military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other world countries. Lee’s measure would repeal the 2001 authorization for the president to take action in situations connected to 9/11, a law that presidents have liberally used—over actions in almost 20 countries around the world and deployments in at least ten. President Obama kept asking Congress to create new legislation for his attacks, but the Republicans ignored him.

Every year Lee failed—until now. The House GOP leadership is resisting, but the committee vote was unanimous in favor of Lee’s amendment. Lee persisted—and achieved a victory.

July 1, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Three – Misogyny, Health Bill, Russia + Falling Numbers

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:08 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Much of the media this past week about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) focused on his misogyny and his attempts to pass a health bill that he himself called “mean.” But he managed to continue offending world leaders. During a visit from South Korean President Moon Jae-In,  DDT lambasted the newly-elected official for the U.S. trade deficit. One year ago, South Koreans had 88 percent confidence in President Obama to do the right thing. This year, that number as dropped to 17 percent confidence in DDT.  In whining about the current U.S./Korea Free Trade Agreement, DDT blamed President Obama, but George W. Bush signed the document in 2007. DDT also failed to realize that he was off on his reference to “you know who wanted it,” most congressional Republicans wanted it.

DDT also implied that a trade deficit with a country has to be a bad deal that he will fix. He said, “I actually said to my people, find a country where we actually do well. So far, we haven’t found that country. It’s just losses with everybody and we’re going to turn that around.” His “people” didn’t look very hard; the U.S. has a trade surplus with over 100 nations. DDT also asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel about negotiating a trade deal eleven times. It wasn’t until her eleventh repetition that the U.S. negotiates with the European Union, not Germany, that he stopped asking.

DDT’s actions are unifying much of the world by destroying the country’s international standing. A recent Pew Research Center survey in 37 nations shows that the median in confidence has dropped to 22 percent, less than one-third of the 64 percent median of President Obama’s ability to direct the U.S. role in the world. Only two countries—Russia and Israel—express more confidence in DDT than the former president. Part of the lack of confidence comes from his policies. Over three-fourths oppose his wall along the U.S./Mexico border, and 71 percent are against his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Over half disagree with his travel ban, his withdrawal from free trade agreements, and his negative approach to the Iran nuclear deal.

One issue decreasing credibility in DDT came from last Monday’s White House announcement from sometimes Press Secretary Sean Spicer:

“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack. As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

With a “normal” president, the public might assume that they are being warned because intelligence identified a chemical-weapons attack. BuzzFeed, however, reported that the Pentagon didn’t know anything about Spicer’s statement. NBC reported that defense, military, and intelligence officials were “caught off guard by the White House statement.” Another “normal” action would be a press briefing. There was none. DDT’s ensuing tweets only promoted Fox network and then attacked Morning Joe hosts. Defense Secretary James Mattis tried to cover two days after Spicer’s statement by saying “he believes Syria has backed down.”

DDT’s foreign policy according to Kevin Drum:

“Trump has been suckered by China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. He has pissed off Mexico, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Australia, and most of our other traditional allies. Nobody knows what his policy toward Israel is. Or his policy in Afghanistan. Or his policy in Syria. Or his trade policy toward anyone. Or whether he ever bothers talking with his Secretary of State.”

And that was before he DDT talked to South Korea.

Polls also show that DDT’s approval rating also continues to drop.  CBS News shows him at 36 percent, DDT’s lowest approval for that source since he was inaugurated; 57 percent disapprove. The loss comes from Republicans: the 72 percent GOP approval is eleven points down since April. Other presidents have seen approval ratings from their own parties this low but not five months into their first terms.

Russia continues to dominate the news:

At least 10 White House officials and former Trump associates have retained private counsel, including VP Mike Pence, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former campaign advisers Michael Caputo, Boris Epshteyn, and Roger Stone.

Marc Kasowitz, one of DDT’s personal lawyers, may have a conflict of interest with his client because of his firm’s involvement in a real estate sale for Kushner. The property’s loan with Deutsche Bank, part of a Russian money laundering scandal, might be part of Robert Mueller’s investigation in things related to Russia and DDT. Kasowitz is already involved with Russia because of his client OJSC Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank.

Former GOP operative Peter W. Smith asked hackers to get him Hillary Clinton campaign emails before the election and said he had talked about the situation with Michael Flynn, than DDT’s adviser. The conservative Wall Street Journal said that Smith viewed Flynn and his consulting company as “allies in their quest.” Smith died in mid-May, and Flynn isn’t talking—yet. But U.S. intelligence agents have corroborated some of this information. Smith also was connected with Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, in the Paula Jones case that led to the impeachment of President Clinton.

DDT’s former campaign consultant Paul Manafort has filed as a foreign agent three years after he was paid $17.1 million by the political party for Ukraine’s leader, who fled to Russia in 2014. Manafort is being investigated by the government for the alleged misuse of Ukrainian government funds. He has a history of working for strong-arm leaders throughout the world.  http://www.newsweek.com/russia-investigation-paul-manafort-michael-flynn-foreign-agents-629609

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers expressed frustration during a closed-session briefing on Capital Hill about DDT’s failure to be convinced that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Rogers also said that DDT lacks focus about Russia’s cyber attempts.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be the next person on the hot seat about Russia. Despite his recusal from all things Russian, he had an eight-minute interview about the subject on Fox and Friends. Some of his statements may be taken as an attempt to undermine special investigator Robert Mueller. In March, Sessions’ chief of staff, Jody Hunt, said that the recusal included any media inquiries about Russia.  The comments were curious because a March 2 memo from Sessions’ chief of staff. Fortunately, Sessions has a personal lawyer.

Conservative pundits must have decided that DDT was actually in collusion with the Russians because they now claim that collusion is not a crime. Greg Jarrett made the most blunt statement: “You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election.” About collusion, Fox’s Bret Hume asked his audience, “Can anyone identify the crime?” Ten expert lawyers cited over a dozen federal statutes that can be used to charge collaborators with Russian intelligence to influence a U.S. election. Dan Friedman wrote:

“Laws against abetting or conspiring to commit computer fraud or identity theft and against soliciting campaign aid from foreign nationals offer two potential areas under which prosecutors could seek indictments, the lawyers say. Prosecutors also could use broader federal statutes related to honest services fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to bring charges against anyone who colluded, according to the attorneys.”

DDT may be personally involved in a crime because he called on Russia “to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” His supporters claim that this was a joke, but with DDT, one never knows. His statement could be construed as aiding and abetting computer fraud.

Some GOP legislators have joined DDT in using President Obama as a scapegoat for the entire Russian hacking problem. During a Senate hearing, Republicans said that the former president knew about the hacking and should have stopped it. Tom Cotton (AK) said, “[President Obama] stood idly by in the 2016 election.” The “idly by” came from Republicans. Two months before the election, the Obama White House briefed top congressional members about Russian activities and asked for bipartisan support so that he didn’t appear to be using the intelligence for electoral ends. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused. Republicans argued against making the information public with the position that releasing the information would help Russia in eliminating confidence in the system. McConnell also said that he didn’t’ believe the intelligence supporting the Russian involvement.

Meanwhile Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, central to many of the Russian meetings, will be hosted at his going-away party on July 11 on his way back to Russia after a decade in the U.S.

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