Trump 2017

Oct 24, 2017
On Iran, the president is trying to pass the buck to Capitol Hill. It may be a bluff, “but a bluff with unthinkable consequences.”

Donald Trump’s declaration earlier this month that he intends to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord—the “worst deal ever,” as he loves to say—unless lawmakers on Capitol Hill made it broader and tougher, was “the equivalent of pulling the pin out of the grenade and handing it to Congress,” one Democratic congressional aide told me. Now Congress has 90 days—when the president has to recertify the deal—to put the pin back in. But, as in an action movie, it’s a task that currently looks impossible. The legislation that the Senate devises will have to garner 60 votes and also satisfy the Trump administration, which wants lawmakers to strengthen restrictions on the regime’s behavior. If Congress fails to deliver, Trump will unravel his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement. Meanwhile, the Iranians have said that any move by the Trump administration to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement would be viewed as a breach, potentially starting their race for a bomb. Read more

Oct 23, 2017
The Hill
Trump promises: ‘NO change to your 401(k)’

President Trump on Monday tweeted that changes won’t be made to 401(k) plans after reports that congressional Republicans were considering a major alteration to the retirement accounts in forthcoming tax-reform legislation.

“There will be NO change to your 401(k),” Trump tweeted.

“This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!”    Read more

Oct 20, 2017
The Inquirer
As Trump undercuts Affordable Care Act, Democrats go on offense in Pa., N.J.

WASHINGTON — After years of absorbing attacks over the Affordable Care Act, its rocky roll-out and early flaws, Democrats are on the offensive.

With Republicans now holding the White House and Congress, and President Trump taking steps to undercut the law, Democrats are pounding GOP incumbents over the results, particularly in the Philadelphia area.

A potent example came earlier last week, when Pennsylvania and New Jersey regulators approved steep rate increases in the states’ insurance markets for individuals, a response, officials and insurers both said, to Trump’s decision to end roughly $7 billion in federal payments intended to hold down costs.

Attacks rained down on local Republicans, as campaign promises to destroy the law turned into real-world actions.

“In the Trump Administration and House Republicans’ never-ending quest to repeal and sabotage the ACA, they are hurting Pennsylvania families,” said a release from Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat challenging Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican from Chester County.

In a neighboring district centered on Delaware County, Democratic hopefuls piled on the Republican incumbent, Rep. Pat Meehan.

“@RepMeehan is silent again as Trump destroys healthcare,” tweeted one challenger, Molly Sheehan. Meehan “is no leader and he is no fighter for the families of the 7th district,” said a release from another, Dan Muroff.  Read more

Oct 20, 2017
Albequerque Journal
Trump promises tax cuts as Senate GOP paves way with budget

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump promised tax cuts Friday “which will be the biggest in the history of our country” following Senate passage of a $4 trillion budget that lays the groundwork for Republicans’ promised tax legislation.

Republicans hope to push the first tax overhaul in three decades through Congress by year’s end, an ambitious goal that would fulfill multiple campaign promises but could run aground over any number of disputes. Failure could cost the GOP dearly in next year’s midterm elections.

The budget plan, which passed on a near party-line vote late Thursday, includes rules that will allow Republicans to get tax legislation through the Senate without Democratic votes and without fear of a Democratic filibuster. Nonetheless, the GOP’s narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate will be difficult for leadership to navigate, as illustrated by the Republicans’ multiple failures to pass legislation repealing and replacing “Obamacare.” Read more

Oct 16, 2017
Washington Post
Why this investigation into Congress’s ties to the drug industry has Washington’s attention

This story has been updated with the latest developments of the fallout from this investigation. 

Two popular villains in politics are the subject of a new Washington Post investigation: Congress and the pharmaceutical industry. And the investigation has grabbed Washington’s attention.

The deeply reported story by Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, in partnership with “60 Minutes,” latches Congress and drug companies so closely together on a piece of opioid legislation that it raises some big questions, including: How much industry involvement in crafting legislation is too much? And is Congress doing enough to address the nation’s prescription drug epidemic, or, have lawmakers, at the behest of drug companies making billions off addictive pain killers, potentially made it worse?

Higham and Bernstein report that in April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon to keep prescription narcotics from going straight from major drug companies to the nation’s streets.

On Monday, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III (W. Va.) called on President Trump to withdraw the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to be his drug czar. Manchin said he was “horrified” by the ties between the drug industry and Marino that were outlined in the investigation.  And Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Monday she’d be introducing legislation to repeal the law.

Also Monday, Trump characterized drug companies as “getting away with murder.” Though he was talking specifically about prescription drug prices, Trump’s eyebrow-raising comments suggests he’d be open to rolling back the industry’s power in Washington. Democrats like Manchin say the first step is to withdraw his nomination of the lawmaker at the center of the investigation. Read more

Oct 13, 2017
Washington Post
Trump Scrapped a key Obamacare payment. Here’s what’s next.

President Trump rocked the health-care world late Thursday by finally following through on a threat to end billions of dollars in subsidy payments that are made to insurers to lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for lower-income Americans.

Trump cast his decision as one that would stop a costly federal outlay that he has described as an insurer bailout. “Massive subsidy payments to their [Democrats’] pet insurance companies has stopped,” he tweeted.

The decision triggered sharp condemnations from major players across the American health-care system. But while the payments to insurance companies do benefit lower-income Americans, taking these payments away will have some counterintuitive effects — and likely won’t hurt the poorest the most.

Here’s how the effects could play out:

1) Taxpayers will pay more when premiums go up.

When the reimbursements — worth roughly $10 billion next year — to health insurers go away, the actual health plans with lowered out-of-pocket costs for lower-income people won’t. Insurers will still have to offer those plans with lower deductibles and co-pays to people who make up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level —$60,750 for a family of four in 2017.

To make up the difference, insurers will raise premiums. Many already factored this into their rate increases for next year. But as the premiums increase, so do the premium tax credits — the federal subsidies that help people afford their health insurance.

“The premiums are going to go up, the premium subsidies go up. They’re just paying out of their left pocket instead of their right pocket,” said David Windley, a managing director at Jefferies, an investment banking firm. “So it’s really kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Tax credits are pegged to income, so that people pay only a certain percentage of their income for their premiums, while the federal government pays the rest. That means people who benefit from cost-sharing reductions today will get bigger federal tax credits to pay for their monthly insurance costs, once those subsidies end.

“We think the federal government might end up paying more,” said Chet Burrell, president of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. “We’re already getting word from other analyses that this could increase federal outflows.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast that ending cost-sharing reductions would increase the federal deficit by $194 billion over a decade, because the tax credit amounts would increase and because more people would receive them. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that premium tax credits would cost an additional $12.3 billion if cost-sharing reductions end next year.

“It is important to note that, contrary to the desired impact of reducing insurance premium costs, defunding of cost-sharing reductions will cause the federal government to spend more money through higher funding expenditure” of premium tax credits, Michael Neidorff, chief executive of insurer Centene said in a statement.

2) Lower-income Americans aren’t really the ones at risk of paying more

Although the subsidies benefit lower-income Americans, they aren’t the ones on the hook if premiums skyrocket. Because of how premium tax credits increase, it should largely be a wash for people who receive credits, health-policy experts said.

People who make between 250 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level could find themselves getting more generous tax credits, because those are pegged to the size of the silver plans, the most popular plans.

“Federal subsidies are not going away and, as a result of this action, will go up, resulting in lower-cost options for many consumers,” Greg Bury, a spokesman for the Midwest insurer Medica said in an email.

People who make too much money to qualify for premium tax credits are the ones who feel the most pain when premiums increase. But since many states specifically allowed insurers to increase premiums due to cost-sharing reduction uncertainty on silver plans sold on their exchanges, this impact may be limited. The impacts will likely vary from state to state and insurer to insurer.

3) Ripple effects

The end of subsidies could affect large numbers of Americans if it pushes insurers that have been struggling with federal uncertainty to a tipping point, causing them to reevaluate whether they should offer plans in the individual market.

On Friday, many insurers said they were still committed to the market next year, but some signaled they could reevaluate. Molina Healthcare said it would “continue to evaluate our participation on a market-by-market basis” in a statement. Burrell indicated that CareFirst might reevaluate its plans this spring, as it sets rates for 2019.

“I think it will create a lot of uncertainty — and it’s a cumulative uncertainty created not only by this decision of this administration, but the executive order, the question of will Congress step in, what will the agencies do,” said Nicole Elliott, a partner at the law firm Holland and Knight.

Read More:

How Trump’s big health care decision could play out

Ending Obamacare subsidies would increase premiums by 20 percent in 2018, CBO says

White House tells court it is immediately stopping ACA cost-sharing subsidies


Oct 10, 2017
Vanity Fair
For Republicans, the cost of running the president’s “adult day care center” is increasingly unaffordable.

Promoting her new memoir Raising Trump, the president’s ex-wife Ivana Trump breezily mentioned Monday that she has a direct line to the White House, though she doesn’t call too often because Melania lives there. “I’m basically first Trump wife. O.K.? I’m First Lady,” she added. Generally guarded, Melania issued an uncharacteristic response: “There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex. Unfortunately only attention seeking and self-serving noise.”

It’s unclear why Melania chose this occasion to snap. Perhaps she’s simply getting into the sophomoric groove of her husband’s West Wing, which has seemed, impossibly, to be backsliding of late, undergoing a Benjamin Button-esque regression to what outgoing Republican Senator Bob Corker recently called an “adult day care center.” Read more

Sept 28, 2017
RealClear Politics
Trump Aims to Pressure Democrats on Taxes

President Trump seized the bully pulpit in Indianapolis Wednesday to rally support for the GOP’s newly unveiled tax proposal, hoping to boost his chances for achieving the first major legislative victory of his tenure.

But he also used the occasion to fire a threat at the Hoosier State’s incumbent Democratic senator, who had traveled to the rally with him on Air Force One.

“If Senator Donnelly doesn’t approve it, because you know he’s on the other side, we will come here. We will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump told the crowd in the state’s capital.

It was the third tax reform rally Trump has held in states that voted for him but have Democratic senators up for re-election — he also visited Missouri in August and North Dakota earlier this month. In the former, he said that if Claire McCaskill didn’t support his tax plan, “you have to vote her out of office.” In the latter, he brought Heidi Heitkamp on stage and called her a “good woman,” but said of any lawmaker who votes against his tax plan, “You’ve got to vote against them and get them out of office.” Read more

Sept 26, 2017
Pat Tillman widow: Don’t ‘politicize’ husband’s service in way ‘that divides us’

(CNN)President Trump’s tweets have consequences. Look no further than Marie Tillman, the widow of Pat Tillman, who was killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in 2004.

Pat Tillman was an NFL player who gave up his Arizona Cardinals contract to serve the United States in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. His life has been an inspirational story for football fans and members of the military, but his death has also been subject to exploitation by political partisans.

On Monday morning the President’s Twitter account retweeted a pro-Trump account that uses Tillman’s name and face. The tweet promoted Trump’s stand-for-the-anthem rhetoric against NFL players who have held silent protests during the National Anthem.

The President’s retweet — shared with his 39 million followers — received widespread attention on Monday, including from Tillman’s widow Marie.

She has been sharply critical of the President in the past. She believes Pat would be too, if he were still alive. Pat was known for his liberal politics.

Marie released a statement to CNN on Monday night. She said she hoped Trump would read it.

“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify,” Marie said. “It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together.”

“Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that,” she wrote, subtly invoking Trump’s “make America great again” slogan.

“Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy,” she wrote. “They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day. The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views.”

Tillman’s statement concluded: “It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans. Source

Sept 14, 2017
Trump may replace Obama’s big climate rule — not just repeal it

The Trump administration is opening the door to offering its own replacement for former President Barack Obama’s landmark climate regulation — rather than just erasing it altogether.

A mend-it-don’t-end-it approach on Obama’s 2015 rule could appease power companies that say the EPA needs to impose some kind of climate regulation — even if it’s much weaker — to avoid triggering courtroom challenges that would cloud the industry in years of uncertainty. But it would run afoul of demands from some conservative activists, who have pressured EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reject the idea that climate change is a problem requiring federal action. Read more

Sept 13, 2017
KASSAM: The Swamp Just Bounced Trump Into A European-Style Assault on Free Speech

Many Americans don’t seem to appreciate as much as outside admirers do, that the United States is the only country in the world with a commitment to free speech enshrined in the nation’s Constitution. Many nations do not even have codified constitution of which to speak.
Which is why it is almost more egregious to the outsider than the American that such protections are under assault, not just on the streets of Berkeley or Charlottesville, but in your legislature — and soon in your Oval Office.

This afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed President Trump would “absolutely” be signing a resolution drafted by Republican and Democrat lawmakers “condemning” hatred.

“He and [Senator Tim Scott] talked about that and discussed that and agreed that that was the appropriate place to be,” Sanders said. “In terms of whether or not he’ll sign the joint resolution, absolutely, and he looks forward to doing so as soon as he receives it.”

But the resolution is manifestly a ruse — the first line of attack in a new wave of assaults against free speech in America. Read more

Sept 7, 2017
USA Today
Trump Organization prepares Mar-A-Lago for Hurricane Irma

NAPLES, Fla. — As Hurricane Irma marches toward Florida, the Trump Organization said it is preparing its handful of properties that could be in the path of the storm.

“The safety and security of our guests, members and colleagues is our top priority, and we are closely monitoring Hurricane Irma,” said Amanda Miller, spokeswoman for the Trump Organization.

President Trump has frequented his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach often since his inauguration. The palace, built in 1927 for one of the richest women of the time, Marjorie Merriweather Post, has survived with little reported damage all the weather that has been thrown at it for nearly 100 years.

Washington Post analysis in April found that it could cost the Coast Guard “tens of millions” over Trump’s four-year term to protect Mar-A-Lago from the sea and air.

Miller did not respond to questions about whether taxpayers are helping to bolster the storm protection at Mar-A-Lago.

The Trump organization also owns a handful of golf courses, hotels and other properties in the Miami, Doral and Palm Beach areas.

“Our teams at the Trump properties in Florida are taking all of the proper precautions and following local and Florida State Advisories very closely to ensure that everyone is kept safe and secure,” Miller said. “We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to victims of Hurricane Harvey and are praying for those that are in the path of Hurricane Irma.”

Most computer models take Irma along the east coast of Florida. It all depends on when the storm turns north this weekend. A delay could bring the catastrophic winds closer to the west coast.

Either way, the storm has put millions of Floridians and their properties at risk.

All of Florida is under a state of emergency. The biggest concern now is not just the record wind speeds but the flooding that could be caused by the storm surge, Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday.

“This can kill you,” he said.

The surge will depend on the tide. If Irma hits Florida during high tide, the storm surge could be deeper, according to a National Weather Service update released Thursday.

It was too early to predict the size of the surge brought by Irma. But a National Weather Service hazard map showed a Category 3 storm could increase sea water levels to more than 9 feet above ground along the Atlantic coast, from Port Orange to Fernandina Beach.  Source

Sept 5, 2017
DACA deportations could cost US economy more than $400 billion

  • Trump’s decision to remove of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from the workforce could cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years.
  • The Trump administration announced the “wind down” over the next six months of the DACA program, which shields some 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.
  • Unless Congress acts to replace the Obama-era program with similar protections, those people would no longer be allowed to work in the U.S.   Read more

August 31, 2017
Business Insider
Microsoft’s CEO is once again standing up to Trump on immigration

….Nadella’s note followed a post on Microsoft’s official blog by Brad Smith, the company’s president. Microsoft is “deeply concerned” at the prospect of Trump ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects DREAMers, Smith wrote, noting that the move would affect 27 company employees. Over the next decade, the program’s end could cost the American economy $460 billion in lost gross domestic product, and could mean $24.6 billion less in contributions to Social Security and Medicare, he said, citing unnamed studies. Read entire article here

Sept 2, 2017
Bluedot Daily
Reporters Release Handwritten Attack Notes Trump Sent Them, “You Are a Total Loser”

Donald Trump is a child. We all know that. But, in case you need more proof, there’s this:
Politico released a collection of handwritten notes Trump has written to journalists. Some are “Thank you” for articles painting him a good light, and others are petty and mean for articles critical of Trump, and all of them are the work of a 10-year-old mental state, complete with circled names and arrows pointing at reporter’s faces, etc. Read more

August 31, 2017
What a New Trump Administration Hire Could Mean for For-Profit Colleges

The Trump administration has tapped Julian Schmoke, a former DeVry University administrator, to lead the Education Department’s student-aid enforcement unit. The move provoked complaints from critics who pointed out that DeVry recently settled several claims brought against it by regulators alleging it had engaged in some of the very abuses the unit is charged with eliminating.

Schmoke’s hiring was first reported by Politico on Tuesday evening, citing an internal email announcing the move. Schmoke, who most recently oversaw campus operations at a community college in Georgia, will be in charge of addressing allegations of illegal activities such as fraud by higher-education institutions.

DeVry, a for-profit college, has faced allegations that it was using deceptive recruitment tactics, misleading students about their career prospects, and distorting data provided to the federal government. The institution’s parent company arrived at settlements with several government entities, including the New York attorney general earlier this year and the Federal Trade Commission in late 2016, the latter of which amounted to $100 million. DeVry Education Group, the parent company, subsequently rebranded itself as Adtalem Global Education. Read more

August 31, 2017
Ex-FEMA official: Trump needs to tell the whole truth about Harvey

(CNN)What do you say to someone who’s lost everything?

At this moment in Houston and other places affected by Hurricane Harvey, parents are sitting in emergency shelters wondering: How will we rebuild our home? How will we get to work? How will we get the kids to school — and is there a school to go to?

This is the scene President Donald Trump flew into Tuesday. And to be sure, the people who have suffered in Harvey’s wake needed to hear from him. In a national disaster, the words of the President of the United States matter. He needs to be reassuring to survivors.

But there is something else he must do. He needs to help set realistic expectations for the long road to recovery. He needs to tell them the truth.

The truth is that over the course of the storm, more than 24 trillion gallons of water have fallen on Southeast Texas and southern Louisiana. This recovery will take years and billions of dollars. People continue to be evacuated and tens of thousands of residents will need temporary shelter and transportation to jobs and schools.

The truth is, actually, that he would do well to take a page from President Barack Obama. As Hurricane Sandy made landfall in 2012, those of us at FEMA knew that any failure on our part would be directed at the President. He had an election just weeks away, but his only message to us was to save lives.
He hugged survivors. He called local leaders every day. He made Hurricane Sandy about all of us and led us in how to help them begin the recovery process. Trump faces an even bigger disaster. Read more

August 30, 2017
Trump Wore USA Hat To Visit Hurricane Zone, And Trump Fans Can Buy The Look

President Trump, with a well-known fondness for golf hats bearing slogans, toured post-Hurricane Houston on Tuesday wearing white headgear emblazoned with “USA.” It had a U.S. flag on one side, and on the other side — maybe this was the giveaway — the numeral 45. Trump is the 45th president.

It was merchandise from his re-election campaign’s online store. On a webpage not updated since January, the campaign sells “the Official USA rope hat worn by 45th President-Elect Donald J. Trump, himself” for $40 – available in red, camouflage or white. And yes, it was made in the U.S.A., according to the website. Read more

August 16, 2017
Trump Rolls Back Obama-Era Flood Standards For Infrastructure Projects

President Trump’s astonishing press conference on Tuesday was, ostensibly, an announcement about infrastructure. But his brief remarks on the permitting process were entirely overshadowed by his defense of attendees at a white supremacist rally, among other remarks.

But the president was, in fact, announcing a new executive order with serious repercussions. Among other things, he is rolling back an Obama-era order that infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges, be designed to survive rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

The executive order was meant to protect taxpayer dollars spent on projects in areas prone to flooding and to improve “climate resilience” across the U.S. — that is, communities’ ability to cope with the consequences of global warming.

President Barack Obama signed the order in 2015, but the changes have not taken effect; FEMA has been soliciting input and drafting new rules.

Now, the order has been revoked as part of an effort to “slash the time it takes” to approve new infrastructure projects, as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put it in a statement.

Speaking at Trump Tower in New York City, Trump said, “We’re going to get infrastructure built quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking, and the permitting process will go very, very quickly.” Few details were revealed in that news conference, but the text of the order has since been published and it specifically revokes Obama’s flood risk rules. Read more

August 23, 2017
Washington Post
What you need to know about former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s record on illegal immigration

“Do people in this room like Sheriff Joe? … I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, okay?”
— President Trump, rally in Phoenix, Aug. 22

“He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him. … Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?”
— Trump, quoted on Fox News, Aug. 13

At his Aug. 22 rally in Phoenix, President Trump heaped praise on longtime ally and campaign surrogate Joe Arpaio, the embattled former sheriff from Arizona. While he didn’t announce a presidential pardon at the rally, he indicated he was ready to offer it. “So, was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” he asked the crowd to applause.

For many years, Trump and Arpaio shared a pet issue: the “birther” theory. Trump was a vocal proponent of it, until he abandoned it during the 2016 presidential campaign and then falsely blamed Hillary Clinton for starting the conspiracy. Arpaio and his volunteer “cold-case posse” perpetuated the conspiracy for six years until Arpaio was voted out of office in 2016.

As Trump made illegal immigration a key campaign issue, he once again found a willing ally in Arpaio, whose anti-immigrant practices catapulted him to national prominence. And now, Trump is considering a presidential pardon for the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” who faces six months of jail following a criminal conviction relating to his policing practices targeting Latinos.

Whether Arpaio has done more than any other local law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration is Trump’s opinion, and not fact-checkable. But it’s important to look at the full context of Arpaio’s history of legal woes stemming from his illegal-immigration policies.

Arpaio, who became sheriff in 1993, quickly became known for his unorthodox practices, such as requiring inmates to wear pink underwear, work on chain gangs and live in an outdoors “Tent City” jail even during the scorching Phoenix summers. In the early 2000s, Arpaio shifted to take on illegal immigration, which raised his national profile.

But the new effort came at a cost. Arpaio’s deputies started arresting hundreds of illegal immigrants, after entering into a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. The sheriff’s office blew through its budget on immigration efforts while violent crimes, including sex crimes, went uninvestigated. The office eventually reopened more than 400 sex crimes investigations from 2005 to 2008 — during which the agency built up its human-smuggling unit while its special-victims unit went disproportionately understaffed.

In 2008, as the recession hit and tensions intensified between Arpaio and local officials over how much local law enforcement should focus on illegal immigration, the county Board of Supervisors decided to cut Arpaio’s budget. This led to a series of political infighting and legal disputes within the county, which ultimately cost taxpayers more than $44 million.

Also in 2008, federal officials under Bush started investigating the sheriff’s office for potential civil rights violations. The investigation continued under Obama and then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who prioritized enforcement of civil rights laws. In 2011, the Justice Department concluded the sheriff’s office engaged in systemic racial profiling of Latinos. DHS then removed the immigration-enforcement authority for Arpaio’s agency.

With this context in mind, let’s fast-forward to 2017

In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court. This stems from a 2007 racial-profiling case, Melendres v. Arpaio, in which Hispanic plaintiffs alleged that sheriff’s deputies discriminated against Latinos in traffic stops.

In 2013, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow found the sheriff’s office engaged in systemic racial profiling of Latinos in its anti-illegal-immigration efforts. Snow ordered the agency to stop detaining people solely because they were suspected of being undocumented.

But Arpaio resisted. He was charged with, then convicted of, criminal contempt of court for intentionally violating Snow’s order. Arpaio’s attorneys now are asking U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton for a new trial or to reconsider her verdict, arguing Arpaio was wrongfully denied a jury trial. Typically, a jury trial is not required when the defendant’s maximum sentence is six months in jail — which Arpaio faces at his October sentencing.

Arpaio has said he would accept Trump’s pardon. Jack Wilenchik, Arpaio’s attorney, said a presidential pardon is “a check on the system, and the right thing to do … Because the former president caused this problem [by revoking the Sheriff’s authority to enforce federal law], it is only fair that the current president fix it, with a pardon. And when the judge refused to allow a jury, she refused to let ordinary Americans speak. So now they have to speak, through their president.”

Maricopa County taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $70 million, specifically relating to this racial-profiling case. Even if Trump pardons Arpaio, taxpayers would still foot the bill.

“If you pardon that kind of conduct, if you forgive that behavior, you are acknowledging that racist conduct in law enforcement is worth the kind of mercy that underlies a pardon — and it’s not,” said Paul Charlton, former U.S. attorney in Arizona under the Bush administration. “And it’s an abuse of the president’s discretion. It’s an injustice, and speaks volumes about the president’s disregard for civil rights if this pardon takes place.”

As Arpaio gained national and even international notoriety over the years, local support waned. Arpaio faced his first serious challenger in 2012, when the vast majority of roughly $8 million raised by his campaign came from out-of-state donors. In 2016, Arpaio failed in his bid for a seventh consecutive term.

What role did Arpaio have on the flow of undocumented immigrants in the Phoenix metro area?

It’s unclear. But unauthorized populations tend to fluctuate based on economic trends on both sides of the border, rather than as a direct result of a single agency or law.

The flow of unauthorized people in Arizona mirrored national trends — peaking in 2007 before the Great Recession, then declining as the U.S. economy suffered, and further declining as Mexico’s economy boomed.


Data for metro areas are limited, but you can see this trend in state-level data for Arizona. (Maricopa County, which encompasses the Phoenix metro area, has the majority of the state’s seven million residents.) Even as Arpaio’s immigration efforts ramped up in the early 2000s, Arizona’s undocumented population increased, as did the nation’s.

The Pinocchio Test

Whether you view Arpaio’s policies as a success is based on your view on illegal immigration, and how far an elected law enforcement official will push legal boundaries for the issues they value. But as we’ve chronicled, Arpaio has had a decade-long history of legal woes stemming from his policing policies on illegal immigration, and a federal judge found his sheriff’s office had engaged in systemic racial profiling of Latinos.

Trump is sympathetic to his political ally, and is mulling a presidential pardon. But the public should view his praise of Arpaio’s work on illegal immigration with a healthy dose of skepticism.

After all, Arpaio’s agency employed systemic racism in the name of immigration enforcement, targeting Latino drivers and detaining them solely based on a suspicion that the driver may be in the United States illegally. He willfully rejected the order to stop these tactics, and is now convicted of criminal contempt. He was voted out of office, but left behind a controversial legacy at the cost of county taxpayers, who are now left with a legal bill of dozens of millions of dollars. We won’t rate Trump’s claims because they are vaguely worded and based in opinion, but they certainly should not be taken at face value.

August 25, 2017
The Hill
Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

President Trump has pardoned Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., the White House announced Friday night.

“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement stressing Arpaio’s public service.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon,” the statement added. Read more

August 22, 2017
Washington Post
President Trump’s list of false and misleading claims tops 1,000

We have been tracking President Trump’s false or misleading claims for more than seven months. Somewhere around Aug. 4 or Aug. 5, he broke 1,000 claims, and the tally now stands at 1,057. (Our full interactive graphic can be found here.)

That’s an impressive number by any standard. In fact, we are a little late with this update because we have simply been overwhelmed keeping track of the deluge of claims made by the president in the later part of July. Things slowed down during the president’s “working vacation,” so we have finally been able to catch up.

At the president’s current pace, he averages nearly five claims a day. Many are repeats of claims that have been previously debunked. We also include statements that are unacknowledged flip-flops from previously held positions, such as touting new highs in a stock market that he previously derided as being a “big, fat bubble.”

More than 30 of the president’s misleading statements have been repeated three or more times.

Trump’s most repeated claim, uttered 50 times, was some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and “essentially dead.” The Congressional Budget Office has said that the Obamacare exchanges, despite well-documented issues, are not imploding and are expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future. Moreover, Congress has been unable to pass a law that would repeal Obamacare, making the continuation of the law Trump’s problem.
Read more

August 23, 2017
The Hill
Trump unloads in defense of his Charlottesville response at Phoenix rally

President Trump on Tuesday night fiercely defended his response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., at his first public rally since his remarks ignited a national debate about whether he had emboldened racists.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Trump made passing remarks from a teleprompter about the need for unity and inclusion before veering off-script to attack the news media, Democrats and even Republicans in the Senate whom he accused of distorting his response and blocking his agenda.

The president mocked the protesters outside the building and taunted the “anti-fascist” protesters — known as “antifa” — that clashed with the white supremacists in Charlottesville, where three people died last Saturday.

“All week [the media] are talking about the massive crowds that are going to be outside. Where are they?” Trump asked. “It’s hot out. It is hot. I think it’s too warm. They show up in the helmets and black masks and they have clubs and everything. Antifa!”

At the 76-minute long rally, Trump threatened to shut down the government if his proposed border wall doesn’t get funding from Congress.

“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.

Trump teased that he would soon pardon controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of ignoring court orders to end the racial profiling of Latinos.

In the run-up to the rally, Democrats warned that a pardon would further inflame racial tensions in the wake of Charlottesville. Trump signaled that a pardon would come, but that Tuesday night was not the proper venue for it.

“I will make a prediction — I think he’s going to be just fine,” Trump said. “But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that okay?” Read more

August 19, 2017
UPDATED: Keeping track at home? Here’s a list of who’s leaving Mar-a-Lago

Here’s a look at the charities and organizations that are coming and going from President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.
These groups all held events at Mar-a-Lago during the 2016-17 social and fundraising season.

So far, 18 charities have decided to move or cancel their events planned for Mar-a-Lago this season.

Four have committed to stay, and another four are still deciding or we haven’t reached them yet. We’ll update this list as we hear from them. Read more

August 16, 2017
The American Prospect
White Supremacists Stand by Trump, and He Returns the Favor

At a press conference, the president blamed the melee in Charlottesville on the left as much as the right, echoing far-right talking points.

The current president of the United States has his own little army of men who play by no rules, many armed to the teeth with assault rifles, all who chant racist slurs, usually bearing some implement that can be used as a weapon—a lit torch, a flagpole, a stick, a club, a homemade shield deliberately crafted with sharp edges. And he means to keep them in his service.

Congressional leaders, meanwhile, have demurred when asked if they would hold hearings on the spread of violent white nationalism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence. These Republicans know on which side their bread is buttered—the crusty side labeled “hate.” Read more

August 13, 2017
Washington Times
Fellow Republicans pressure Trump to forcefully and clearly condemn white nationalism

As the dust settled after Saturday’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, President Trump was stung by a political backlash from both sides, with leading Republicans condemning what they saw as a tepid response and a failure to call evil by its name.
After a counterprotester was killed when a car plowed into her and two Virginia state troopers died in a helicopter crash, the president had an opportunity to dispense fully with the notion that he welcomed the support of fringe right-wing groups, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.
Such charges have dogged Mr. Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign, and his vice president used a trip to South America to push back against the charge.
Powerful figures in the Republican Party say the president squandered that opportunity with a Saturday statement that condemned violence and bigotry in broad terms but blamed tensions on “many sides.” The statement made no mention of the white nationalist groups that perpetrated the fatal gathering.
“These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House. … I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Read more

July 18, 2017
Bluedot Daily
Christian Author Unleashes on Evangelical Trump Voters: “You don’t like that I’ve “gotten political,” huh?

Rachel Held Evans is a progressive Christian blogger and author of the books Faith Unraveled, A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Searching for Sunday. Evans is also a prolific Facebook and Twitter poster who often stirs fiery debates in the comments sections with her posts.

In her most recent post that has people talking, Evans, who considers herself a former evangelical, calls out evangelical support for Trump as hypocritical and antithetical to the Christian life. “You don’t like that I’ve gotten political?” she asks in the post, answering herself with a strong defense of anti-Trump Christianity, and concluding with “Damn right, I’ve gotten political.” Read more

August 8, 2017
The Hill
Feds killing Obama plan to require sleep apnea test for truck, train drivers

The Trump administration is killing an Obama-era plan to require truck drivers and train operators to take a test to determine if they suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that causes dangerous daytime drowsiness.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are no longer pursuing the regulation, which would require all rail and trucking companies to test drivers for the disorder, which has been blamed for deadly crashes in the United States.

“It’s very hard to argue that people aren’t being put at risk,” Sarah Feinberg, a former FRA administrator, told the AP about the decision to abandon plans to implement the rule. “We cannot have someone who is in that condition operating either a train going 70 mph or operating a multi-ton truck traveling down the interstate. It’s just not an appropriate level of risk to be exposing passengers and the traveling public to.” Read more

July 27, 2017
CNN Politics
Boy Scouts official apologizes for ‘political rhetoric’ of Trump speech

An official with the Boy Scouts of America apologized to the Scouting community on Thursday for the political content of President Donald Trump’s speech at the National Scout Jamboree.

“I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “That was never our intent.” Read more

July 27, 2017
The New Yorker
Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon

On Wednesday night, I received a phone call from Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. He wasn’t happy. Earlier in the night, I’d tweeted, citing a “senior White House official,” that Scaramucci was having dinner at the White House with President Trump, the First Lady, Sean Hannity, and the former Fox News executive Bill Shine. It was an interesting group, and raised some questions. Was Trump getting strategic advice from Hannity? Was he considering hiring Shine? But Scaramucci had his own question—for me. Read more for the vulgarity

July 26, 2017
Scaramucci’s final disclosure here

July 24, 2017
Trump’s ‘Embarrassing Spectacle’ At Boy Scout Jamboree Panned By Former Scouts

Dozens of former Boy Scouts condemned President Donald Trump’s address Monday to nearly 40,000 young men gathered at the group’s 2017 National Scout Jamboree, saying efforts to politicize his speech were “embarrassing,” “mortifying” and a “disgusting display.”

Trump, speaking in Glen Jean, West Virginia, began his remarks with a pledge that he wouldn’t talk about the current climate in Washington, D.C., commenting, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”

However, he quickly veered from his prepared remarks and proceeded to hit many of his favorite rallying points to press his own agenda. The president railed against former presidential rival Hillary Clinton, drawing ebullient boos from onlookers, and spent time speaking about ongoing efforts to repeal Obamacare. He even joked that he would fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if the repeal effort failed.

The Boy Scouts of America released a statement late Monday to a reporter who asked about its political stance, saying the organization was “wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy.” Read more

July 21, 2017
Vanity Fair

On Friday morning, Donald Trump appointed investment firm manager Anthony Scaramucci White House communications director, plunging the West Wing into chaos. Before noon, news broke that press secretary Sean Spicer had reportedly resigned in protest, having told the president he thought that Scaramucci’s appointment was a huge mistake. Chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Steve Bannon were also said to be hugely opposed to the move, having claimed “Anthony would get this job over their dead bodies,” a top White House official told Politico. Yet it’s easy enough to see why Trump went against one half of his inner circle (Scaramucci was reportedly cheered by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump); despite having zero experience in communications, “the Mooch,” as he is known, is absolutely unflagging in his loyalty. Even after he was unceremoniously informed that he would not be getting the West Wing job he agreed to sell his company to take, he never faltered in stumping for Team Trump: Read more

July 18, 2017
The Hill
US military spending $130K a month to rent Trump Tower space: report

The U.S. military is spending $130,000 a month to rent space in Trump Tower in New York City for the White House Military Office, despite the fact that Trump hasn’t stayed at the property in months.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the military agreed to pay $180,000 for the last 20 days of April 2017 and $130,000 a month thereafter, according to the contract released by the General Services Administration (GSA).

The lease rate being paid by the military is far above the typical rate for such a space, making it one of the most costly real estate rentals in Manhattan, the Wall Street Journal reported. Read more

July 15, 2017
White House publishes personal information of election-commission critics

The White House has released unredacted emails containing the names and contact information of individuals who commented on the president’s Election Integrity Commission, exposing the identities of people explicitly opposed to the Trump administration’s demand for detailed voter rolls.

The White Housebegan releasing comments it received concerning the election commission on Thursday this week, and by Saturday had published several thousand pages worth of emails sent by individuals for and against the administration’s controversial request for voter information. Read more

July 12, 2017
Trump: ‘I will be very angry’ if GOP senators don’t pass a health care bill

President Donald Trump put the onus squarely on Senate Republicans on Wednesday to pass a health-care bill, declaring that he will be “very angry” if the chamber falls short on a long-standing promise of his party.

The comments, coming in an interview at the White House with televangelist Pat Robertson of CBN News, intensified public pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who plans to release a revised version of his health-care legislation Thursday morning. Read more

July 5, 2017
President Trump Apparently Couldn’t Find A Hotel To Book For The G20 Summit

He is one of the most powerful people in the world. He is coming to the meeting of 20 powerful countries. And he has a problem: no hotel room for the G20.

White House officials apparently waited too long to book accommodations for President Trump, leaving him without a hotel in Hamburg, Germany, as world leaders converge for the G20 summit. Read more

June 5, 2017
How to Find Deleted Public Health Assessments for Contaminated Sites

ATSDR posts these reports on its website here. But in January 2017 (the time Trump assumed office), it pulled down all assessments and consultations dating prior to October 1, 2004, in order to somehow “streamline” the site. Read more

July 4, 2017
Independent Journal Review
Watch: Confused Trump Wanders Away From His Limousine, Gets Directed Back To It

While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was sunning himself on a government shutdown-enabled private beach over the Fourth of July weekend, Donald Trump was a few miles away, enjoying yet another stay at one of his golf courses. Read more

July 2017

From Paul Ryan to John McCain, Sarah Ellison takes a look at the men—and the motives—that are propping up a Donald Trump presidency. Read more


June 29. 2017
The Hill
State officials refuse to turn over voter roll data to Trump election panel

State officials from Virginia, California and Kentucky said Thursday that they will refuse a request for voter roll data from President Trump’s commission on election integrity.

Earlier Thursday, it was reported that the commission sent letters to all 50 states asking for voters’ names, birthdays, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their voting history dating back to 2006.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement that he has “no intention” of fulfilling the request, defending the fairness of his state’s elections. He also blasted the commission in his statement, saying it was based on the “false notion” of widespread voter fraud in the November presidential election.

“At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” McAuliffe stated.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) also responded to the request, saying “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally” in the last election.

“California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, Vice President, and [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach,” Padilla stated.

Kobach is the vice chairman of the voter fraud panel who asked each state for its voter rolls.

Later in the evening, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said she too wouldn’t offer up the information requested by the panel.

“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that “voter fraud” is a widespread issue – it is not,” Grimes said in a statement Thursday.

“Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the President has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election,” her statement continued. “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”

Trump signed an executive order in May establishing the commission, stating that the purpose of the group is to “promote fair and honest federal elections.”

Kobach and Trump have both made unsubstantiated claims that large numbers of undocumented immigrants vote in U.S. elections.

Source here

June 23, 2017
Despite Claims to Contrary, Trump Has Signed No Major Laws in 5 Months

Measuring laws passed by counting rather than by significance is pretty meaningless. More on that in a bit. Among modern Oval Office occupants, Presidents Jimmy Carter (52), George H.W. Bush (41) and Bill Clinton (41) had all signed more bills into law than Trump has by this point in their presidencies. Read entire story and list here


June 16, 2017
Trump to Allow ‘Dreamers’ to Remain in U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday night that it intends to continue the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which protects illegal immigrants who came to the United States as small children from deportation.

So-called “dreamers” enrolled in the 2012 program will continue to be eligible to renew every two years, and their work authorization permits will not be terminated “prior to their current expiration dates,” the New York Times reported. The DACA program affects about 800,000 U.S. residents.

The Times characterized the Trump administration’s decision to keep DACA in place as a reversal of one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises. While on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised to “immediately terminate” DACA. Read more


June 16, 2017
The Hill
Trump earns $598M as Mar-a-Lago profits spike

President Trump earned $598 million in income last year, according to his personal financial disclosure report released by the Office of Government Ethics on Friday evening. The financial report captures a mixed financial performance for the president’s assets over the last year.

The documents show that Trump has a minimum net worth of $1.1 billion, including more than $320 million in debts. Trump has five liabilities worth $50 million or more, such as the lease on his Washington D.C. hotel.

While Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Fla. country club he’s dubbed the “Winter White House,” saw a nearly $8 million increase in revenue — a 25 percent increase from last year — other golf courses had unchanged revenues. Mar-a-Largo has also doubled the amount a person must pay to be a member over the past year. Read more


June 11, 2017
Donald Trump’s State Visit to the UK cancelled indefinitely

President Donald Trump’s State Visit to the United Kingdom has been cancelled indefinitely at the request of The White House.

In a phone call to Theresa May, President Trump expressed that he does not want to visit the UK until the British perception of him has been improved.

According to a report in the Guardian, the President is fearful of large-scale protests and would rather visit when the population changes their opinion of the 70-year-old.

According to those present at Downing Street when the phone call was made, the Prime Minister was “surprised” that he wanted the visit to be postponed.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn reacted to the news, saying: “Cancellation of President Trump’s State Visit is welcome, especially after his attack on London’s mayor & withdrawal from Paris Climate Deal.”

Although a date had not been formally agreed, it was thought that Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, would visit the UK sometime in Autumn 2017.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, confirmed at a press conference just a few days after his inauguration that President Trump would be travelling to the country at some point on 2017.

However, more than a million people signed a petition urging the Prime Minister to rescind the invitation.

The President is also said to be extremely reluctant to meet Prince Charles because of the pair’s differing views on climate change.

The President, who has previously said that climate change is a myth invented by the Chinese, does not want to take a lecture from The Prince of Wales who is a climate change campaigner, according to The Sunday Times.

June 9, 2017
Washington Times
Illegal immigration up 27 percent last month

Illegal immigration across the southwest border appears to have jumped 27 percent in May, according to numbers released this week by Homeland Security, breaking a three-month streak of declines under President Trump and suggesting the slump in migrants has bottomed out.
The Border Patrol nabbed 14,535 illegal immigrants in the southwest last month, up from just 11,129 in April. Analysts said that the number of people caught is a rough measure of the overall flow of people trying to sneak in.
The number of illegal immigrants showing up at ports of entry without authorization also ticked up, from 4,649 to 5,432.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees the Border Patrol and the ports of entry, acknowledged the spike in crossings, but attributed it to “a seasonal uptick.”
CBP said it “expects the uptick to continue” through the summer months.
The numbers suggest that while Mr. Trump appears to have changed the calculations of many border crossers, Read more

June 6, 2017
The Hill
Karl Rove: ‘Trump lacks the focus or self-discipline to do the basic work required of a president’
Karl Rove, a former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, slammed President Trump on Wednesday, saying that the real estate mogul “lacks the focus or self-discipline to do the basic work required of a president.”
“His chronic impulsiveness is apparently unstoppable and clearly self-defeating,” Rove wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Trump may have mastered the modes of communication, but not the substance, thereby sabotaging his own agenda.”
Rove took particular aim at a series of tweets launched by Trump on Monday that appeared to undermine his Justice Department’s argument for an executive order barring citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Read more
June 1, 2017
The Hill
Disney CEO:I’m quitting advisory council over Paris deal
Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said Thursday that he is resigning from President Trump’s advisory council on policy over Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate deal.
Iger tweeted that he was resigning as “a matter of principle” in response to Trump’s formal announcement that he is pulling the U.S. from the Paris agreement. Read more
June 1, 2017
The Hill
Macron responds to Trump: ‘Make our planet great again’
French President Emmanuel Macron is offering his own version of President Trump’s campaign slogan with a call to “make our planet great again” following Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.
“I call on you to remain confident,” Macron said in a video posted on Twitter. “We will succeed because we are fully committed. Because wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility. Make our planet great again.”
Macron additionally called on “scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs [and] responsible citizens who were disappointed” by Trump’s move to make France their home.
“I call on them, come, and work here with us. To work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you that France will not give up the fight.” Read more
May 29, 2017
Donald Trump acted like ‘a drunk tourist’ on Europe trip that led Angela Merkel to proclaim end of US alliance
Donald Trump was like a “drunk tourist” on his first trip abroad, which saw awkward handshakes with the French President, shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro and causing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare the end of the US alliance with Europe.
A US State Department official blasted the “arrogance” of the President as he flew from Saudi Arabia and Israel to Europe last week.
“When it comes to diplomacy, President Trump is a drunk tourist,” the unnamed official told The Daily Beast. Read more
May 28, 2017
As Trump Lifestyle Takes Toll On Secret Service, Lawmakers Try To Give Extra Support
Nearly every weekend since Inauguration Day, President Trump has flown from Washington to one of his homes outside the capital. Most often he’s stayed at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla.
In April, he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping there for a summit meeting, and in February he invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe down for a round of golf.
Trump has also overnighted at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
All the travel means a lot of work for the United States Secret Service, the legendary agency which protects presidents and their families.
“It is hard enough when the president and his wife and children all live in the White House together and take an occasional trip to Camp David,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. “But what we have seen from this administration is unprecedented.” Read more
May 24, 2017
VA defends plan to cut thousands of dollars from elderly vets’ benefits
WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials on Wednesday defended plans to strip tens of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits from elderly veterans as responsible reforms to the department’s growing budget, but opponents promised to fight the idea.Included in President Donald Trump’s $186.5 billion VA budget for fiscal 2018 — a nearly 6 percent boost in discretionary spending from this year — are plans to dramatically cut the department’s Individual Unemployability program.Up to 225,000 veterans over the age of 60, at least 7,000 of whom are over 80, could be impacted by the change.Under current rules, the IU program awards payouts at the 100 percent disabled rate to veterans who cannot find work due to service-connected injuries, even if actual rating is less than that.Administration officials want to stop those payouts once veterans are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, arguing those individuals should no longer qualify for unemployment benefits. Veterans who cannot collect Social Security would be exempt. Read more
May 24, 2017
The Hill
White House, ethics office feud escalates
An escalating feud between the White House and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has boiled over, with the Trump administration refusing to produce waivers it has granted to lobbyists that allow them to work in government agencies.
Walter Shaub, the office’s director, wants to review the waivers and make them public to ensure the Trump administration is adhering to publicly stated policies and an executive order signed by the president.
That would bring the Trump administration in line with practices followed under former President Barack Obama, who appointed Shaub to his current role.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is refusing to turn over the waivers. He wants time to consult with the Justice Department about the scope of Shaub’s authority. Read more
May 23, 2017
The Hill
Here are the 66 programs eliminated in Trump’s budget
President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal would completely eliminate 66 federal programs, for a savings of $26.7 billion.
Some of the programs would receive funding for 2018 as part of a phasing-out plan.

Here are the programs the administration wants on the chopping block.

Agriculture Department — $855 million

· McGovern-Dole International Food for Education

· Rural Business-Cooperative Service

· Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account

· Single Family Housing Direct Loans

Commerce Department — $633 million

· Economic Development Administration

· Manufacturing Extension Partnership

· Minority Business Development Agency

· National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grants and Education

Education Department — $4.976 billion· 21st Century Community Learning Centers

· Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants

· Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
Read more

May 21, 2017
Saudis And The UAE Will Donate $100 Million To A Fund Inspired By Ivanka TrumpSaudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will donate a combined $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs that was the brainchild of Ivanka Trump.The announcement by World Bank President Jim Young Kim came during a visit to Saudi Arabia by President Trump, who was accompanied by his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.”We thought it was a fantastic idea,” Kim said. “But we had no idea how quickly this would build. This is really a stunning achievement. I’ve never seen anything come together so quickly, and I really have to say that Ivanka’s leadership has been tremendous.” The money will help kick off a $1 billion women’s empowerment fund that the World Bank will announce in July, he said.The UAE’s U.S. ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, said in a statement that the promised donation reflects “our commitment to empowering women in our region and builds on the progress we have made in our country, where women play a role in every segment of society.”Trump often excoriated the Clinton FoundationThe donation raised some eyebrows, since candidate Trump regularly excoriated the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from repressive Middle East regimes such as Saudi Arabia.USA Today quoted a June 2016 Facebook posting in which Trump said, “Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!”During an October debate, Trump also told Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, “Saudi Arabia giving $25 million, Qatar, all of these countries. You talk about women and women’s rights? So these are people that push gays off business – off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money.”The World Bank fund, which provides technical help and investment funding for women business owners, differs from the Clinton Foundation in some significant ways. While Ivanka Trump proposed the idea along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she is not involved with its operation. Read more
May 21, 2017
The Hill
Worries mount about vacancies in Trump’s State Department
Concerns are growing about a short-staffed State Department dealing with a host of international crises.
As President Trump begins his first foreign trip, seven of the nine senior State Department roles under Secretary Rex Tillerson remain vacant, including his top deputy. The only two officials in senior roles were appointed by former President Obama and have been kept on.
While the Trump administration has put the blame on Senate Democrats and the slow confirmation process, others say Trump has been slow to issue nominations.
There are roughly 200 positions at the State Department that require Senate confirmation, including key ambassadorships, the vast majority of which remain unfilled more than 100 days into the new administration. Read more
May 18, 2017
The Hill
Kushner called Lockheed CEO to get a better arms deal for Saudi Arabia
President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner personally called the CEO of Lockheed Martin during a meeting with a Saudi delegation earlier this month to ask her to cut the price of a missile defense system, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The call was part of Kushner’s effort to secure a roughly $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia before Trump’s scheduled trip to the kingdom on Friday.
During the meeting with the delegation, Kushner determined that cost could prohibit the Saudis from purchasing a THAAD missile defense system, which is designed to shoot down intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Read more
 World Report: Human Rights Watch – Saudi Arabia here
May 18, 2017
The Hill
FCC votes to advance net neutrality repeal
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back net neutrality rules took its first step forward on Thursday.
The commission voted 2-1 along party lines to advance Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom proposal, which would repeal current net neutrality protections.
Thursday’s vote opens a period of public input before the agency advances the proposal.
The FCC’s formal decision to consider the proposal did not come without resistance. The commission’s lone Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, harshly criticized the proposal, and activists braved the heat to protest outside FCC headquarters. Read more
Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now
When you go online you have certain expectations. You expect to be connected to whatever website you want. You expect that your cable or phone company isn’t messing with the data and is connecting you to all websites, applications and content you choose. You expect to be in control of your internet experience.
When you use the internet you expect Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. Net Neutrality is the way that the internet has always worked.
In 2015, millions of activists pressured the Federal Communications Commission to adopt historic Net Neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open — allowing you to share and access information of your choosing without interference.
But right now this win is in jeopardy: The Trump administration and new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai want to destroy Net Neutrality. Read more
May 11, 2017
President Trump denies request by Gov. Wolf for federal disaster declaration
overnor Tom Wolf announced Thursday that President Donald Trump has denied his request for a federal disaster declaration to help offset the financial burden of a record-breaking snowstorm that crippled much of the northeastern part of the state in March.
“This disaster declaration would have provided much-needed financial assistance to hard-hit communities in northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “I want to thank county and local emergency managers and responders for all of their hard efforts in responding to this storm and helping us make our case for this disaster declaration request.” Read more
May 10, 2017
Trump fires FBI Director Comey, setting off U.S. political storm
U.S. President Donald Trump ignited a political firestorm on Tuesday by firing FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading an investigation into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to influence the election outcome.
The Republican president said he fired Comey, the top U.S. law enforcement official, over his handling of an election-year email scandal involving then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The move stunned Washington and raised suspicions among Democrats and others that the White House was trying to blunt the FBI probe involving Russia.
Some Democrats compared Trump’s move to the “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973, in which President Richard Nixon fired an independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.
White House officials denied allegations that there was any political motive in the move by Trump, who took office on Jan. 20.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he spoke to Trump and told him he was “making a very big mistake” in firing Comey, adding the president did not “really answer” in response. Read more
May 9, 2017
Jared Kushner’s sister woos China’s ‘golden visa’ investors
The sister of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been in China courting individual investors with a much-criticized federal visa program that provides a path toward obtaining U.S. green cards.
Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer promoted One Journal Square, a Kushner Companies’ development in Jersey City, at an event Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Shanghai, according to participants.
The pitch seeks to raise funds from Chinese investors through the U.S. government’s EB-5 visa program, which allows permanent U.S. residency for those who finance projects that create a certain amount of jobs.
The event was organized by Beijing-based immigration services company QWOS and Kushner Companies, according to an advertisement on the Chinese company’s website, which says the project is seeking $150 million from 300 EB-5 investors.
Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, stepped down as chief executive of the Kushner Companies in January and has sold stakes in several properties to help allay concerns about conflict of interest. His family’s promotional efforts in China come amid widespread criticism of the EB-5 visa program, which has grown popular among wealthy foreigners seeking to move to the U.S. but faces allegations of fraud and misuse.
Read more
May 9, 2017
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.Read more about the program here
May 5, 2017
Trump’s Bedminster Vacation Costs Taxpayers $840,000
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2017—Donald Trump tweeted Friday that by staying at his for-profit golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey he was saving taxpayers money.
While staying in Bedminster is less expensive than his trips to Palm Beach, it is estimated that a weekend trip to Trump’s New Jersey club still costs taxpayers $839,858.76.
According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, flight expenses are estimated at $358,490.90, three days of Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security expenses total an estimated $303,225, per diem expenses for Secret Service agents and support staff for three days are estimated at $135,000 and costs to Bedminster township are estimated at $43,142.86.
The estimates are based on a Judicial Watch evaluation of a flight President Obama took to Westchester, NY; Bedminster’s own estimate of its expenses; and a Government Accountability Office study of expenses during a similar trip by President Obama, adjusted for trip length. Read more
May 4, 2017
The Hill
ACLU won’t sue, says ‘religious freedom’ order was ‘elaborate photo-op’
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reversed course Thursday, saying it won’t file a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s executive order on religious political exemptions.
“Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome,” ACLU director Anthony Romero said in a statement.
“After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process. The order portends, but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services,” Romero added.
The ACLU director went on to criticize Trump’s assertion that he wants to do away with the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious institutions from supporting or opposing political parties and candidates.
“President Trump’s prior assertion that he wished to ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news,’” Romero said.
“The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential future battle, but as of now, the status quo has not changed,” he continued.
“What President Trump did today was merely provide a faux sop to religious conservatives and kick the can down the road on religious exemptions on reproductive health care services.” Read more
May 1, 2017
The Hill
Trump to ‘consider’ raising the gas tax
President Trump on Monday said that he is open to raising the gas tax to help pay for infrastructure projects.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Trump said he would “certainly consider” a gas tax hike “if we earmarked money toward the highways.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later stressed during a briefing that Trump did not endorse a gas tax increase.
Instead, according to Spicer, Trump told Bloomberg that he would consider the request of a transportation group that met with him and expressed support for raising the gas tax. Read more
May 1, 2017
The Hill
Week ahead: Comey heads to the Hill; Russia probes press ahead
The coming week will see congressional panels push forward on their investigations into Russian election interference and representatives from government and industry meet at an annual forum on digital transformation.
There is also sure to be more speculation on President Trump’s executive order on cybersecurity, which has been delayed since January. The order still hasn’t been signed, despite conjecture that the president could do so as early as Friday.
The House Intelligence Committee has invited FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to appear before the committee in a closed-door setting on Tuesday as part of the ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling.
The panel has also invited former Obama administration officials, including ex-acting attorney general Sally Yates, to testify sometime after May 2. Read more
April 29, 2017
100 Days of Whoppers
Donald Trump, the candidate we dubbed the ‘King of Whoppers’ in 2015, has held true to form as president.
Donald Trump — whom we crowned the “King of Whoppers” when he was a long-shot candidate in 2015 — has held true to form during his first 100 days as president of the United States.
In his first hour as president, he painted a dark portrait of a crime-ridden America with a dismal economy. The next day he falsely denied that he had been feuding with the intelligence agencies, which days earlier he had compared to Nazi Germany’s. Read more
April 26, 2017
The Hill
Trump orders review of national monument sites
President Trump on Wednesday will order the Interior Department to review 20 years’ worth of monument designations on federal land across the country.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters he will consider whether monument designations at up to 40 sites should be “rescinded, resized or modified in order to better benefit our public lands.”
The order signals the beginning of a major review of federal land use and monument designations’ impact on employment and land access for industry groups, companies and individuals. Read more
April 25, 2017
CNN Money
New home buyers will pay for that new Canadian lumber tarriff
Who’s really going to end up paying for the new Trump tax on Canadian lumber? New home buyers in the U.S.
The Trump administration announced Monday plans to impose duties of up to 24% on most Canadian lumber, charging that lumber companies there are subsidized by the government. Canadian lumber makes up about 30% of the U.S. market.

The tax is expected to hike the price of lumber used in home building by an average of 6%, according to the National Association of Home Builders, the trade group for the U.S. industry.

“For builders, it’ll increase the cost of construction by about $3,000 on the average home, which unfortunately will be passed on to consumers,” said Jerry Howard, CEO of the group. Read more

April 25, 2017
CNN Money
The US just lost a trade battle with Mexico. It’s the first loss of the Trump era.
Mexico and the US have fought for years over tuna. The US insists that any Mexican tuna sold in the US must be “dolphin safe,” meaning dolphins weren’t killed by tuna fisherman, which was once common. Mexico says its fisherman play by the rules. The US government disagrees.
On Tuesday, the World Trade Organization ruled in Mexico’s favor, allowing it to impose trade sanctions worth $163 million a year against the US. The WTO says that’s how much money Mexico has lost from the US unfairly penalizing Mexican tuna.
The timing, however coincidental, is sensitive. President Trump wants to renegotiate NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada. Read more
April 19, 2017
Chester County called ‘poster child for partisanship’ under Trump
Chester County, the prosperous exurb of Philadelphia, may be one of the most politically divided places in the entire nation, suggests a new poll from Brown University.
April 18, 2017
Guess WHo Came to Dinner with Flynn and Putin
It was a (red) star-studded affair, the December 2015 dinner celebrating the 10th birthday of Russian TV network RT. At a luxe Moscow hotel, President Vladimir Putin and a host of Russian luminaries toasted a state-backed news channel that U.S. intelligence calls a Kremlin mouthpiece.
And next to Putin at the head table, in the seat of honor, was an American. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would later become Donald Trump’s national security adviser, was already advising Trump’s presidential campaign when he was paid $45,000 to speak at the gala.
“It is not coincidence that Flynn was placed next to President Putin,” said Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador in Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and now an NBC News analyst. “Flynn was considered a close Trump adviser. Why else would they want him there?” Read more
April 18, 2017
The Atlantic
How Did the Trump Administration Lose an Aircraft Carrier?
The White House said the USS Carl Vinson was headed for North Korea as it sailed the opposite direction—the latest example of a communications failure inside the executive branch.
A certain amount of unpredictability is a virtue in foreign policy. When one’s adversaries—and perhaps one’s allies—don’t know precisely what a country will do, it gives that country a little extra power in the relationship. Like all virtues, it turns into a vice when used in excess. Donald Trump, Fred Kaplan recently argued, offers an extreme test of Richard Nixon’s “madman theory,” the Vietnam-era approach of letting enemies think Nixon might really be insane and do anything.
North Korea and the Risks of Miscalculation
As my colleague Kathy Gilsinan wrote last week, the hazards of this approach are on display in the latest American standoff with North Korea—a contest between two leaders who delight in bellicose rhetoric and erratic action. “When two leaders each habitually bluster and exaggerate, there’s a higher likelihood of making a catastrophic mistake based on a bad guess,” she wrote, including the threat of nuclear war. Even for those who espouse unpredictability, the presumption is that at least the putative madman has some sense what’s going on, even if no one else does. The point is the appearance of unpredictability, not true chaos.
That brings us to a baffling news item on Tuesday. Read more
How will your Congressman & Senator vote?
April 14, 2017
The Hill
Report: Trump shift to allow political action from churches may come in tax bill
President Trump’s pledge to allow churches to participate in political activity may come as a part of tax reform legislation, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Sources told the publication that the repeal of the “Johnson Amendment,” which prohibits nonprofit organizations from endorsing political candidates, is being written into tax legislation that is currently developing in the House of Representatives.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in February that he planned to include repeal of the Johnson Amendment in tax reform legislation.
“Places of worship across America need to be free to practice their faith without worrying about Washington or the IRS targeting their religious freedom,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “So in our Republican tax reform, we’re going to repeal the damaging effects of the Johnson Amendment once and for all.” Read more
April 13, 2017
Trump Signs Law Taking Aim at Planned Parenthood Funding
WASHINGTON — President Trump signed legislation on Thursday aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions, a move cheered by conservatives who have clamored to impose curbs on reproductive rights.
The measure nullifies a rule completed in the last days of the Obama administration that effectively barred state and local governments from withholding federal funding for family planning services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, fertility, pregnancy care, and breast and cervical cancer screening from qualified health providers — regardless of whether they also performed abortions. The new measure cleared Congress last month with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tiebreaking vote in the Senate. Read more
April 13, 2017
US military drops ‘mother of all bombs on IS’ in Afghanistan
The US military says it has dropped a 21,600lb (9,800kg) bomb on a tunnel complex used by Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), known as “the mother of all bombs”, is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used by the US in a conflict.
The Pentagon said it was dropped from a US aircraft in Nangarhar province.
The news came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels.
It said a partnered force had mistakenly identified the target location as an IS position, but the strike on 11 April had killed rebels from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is backed by Washington. Read more
April 12, 2017
President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping Gave Very Different Reports of Their Phone Call
President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping April 11 — and their official statements about the conversation couldn’t have been more different.
The White House provided no information beyond the fact that a phone call had taken place. “President Donald J. Trump spoke last night President Xi Jinping of China to follow up after President Xi’s visit to Mar-a-Lago,” it said in a statement. “It was a very productive call.”
A readout from the Chinese President, however, obtained and translated by CNN, not only detailed what the two discussed — topics included North Korea and Syria — but also mentioned steps to move the relationship forward.
“We held in-depth exchanges on China-US relations in a new era as well as major international and regional issues, and reached important consensus,” said Xi. “Mr. President and I have deepened our mutual understanding and established a good working relationship. Next, both sides should utilize the four high-level dialogue mechanisms, namely diplomatic and security, comprehensive economic, law enforcement and cyber security, as well as social and people-to-people dialogues.” Read more
April 12, 2017
Trump Attacks NBC’s Today Show for Telling the Truth About His Job Creation Lies
This is interesting, Trump saying we should ask the CEOs of these companies because, in fact, Fiat Chrysler says that Trump had nothing to do with their decision to modernize two plants and create 2000 jobs in the Midwest.
The same with Ford. CEO Mark Fields told Reuters,
“We’re going forward with our plan to move production of the Ford Focus to Mexico, and importantly that’s to make room for two very important products we’ll be putting back into Michigan plants. There will be no job impact whatsoever with this move.” Read entire article here
April 9, 2017
abc News
After Syria strikes, Trump officials seem to send mixed signals on Assad
In the wake of President Trump’s ordering missile strikes against a Syrian air base, senior U.S. officials appear to be sending mixed signals on the administration’s stance toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that there was “no change” in the U.S. military posture toward Syria despite the Thursday airstrike against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack days earlier that killed at least 87 civilians. Read more
April 6, 2017
CNN Politics
Democrats: Trump ‘really needs to come to Congress’ to approve strikes on Assad
As President Donald Trump considers a military response to the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack, Democrats are warning the President that he needs to come to Congress first.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump would need a war authorization to bomb Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Like the Obama administration, the Trump administration has launched airstrikes against ISIS using legal justification from the 2001 war authorization that passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But that would not cover Assad, Cardin argued.
“If we decide to do military in Syria, he really needs to come to Congress,” Cardin said. “In regards to an attack against the Assad government, there is no authorization.”
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat who has pushed for a war authorization against ISIS, also argued Trump would not have the authority to attack the Assad regime.
“Dropping bombs inside a civil war was a bad idea in 2013, it’s a worse idea in 2017,” Murphy said. “It will make some Americans feel better, but it will make that battle space more chaotic and end up with more people getting killed, not less. And again, he doesn’t have the authorization from Congress to do this.”
Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that Congress should evaluate and decide on a war in Syria before Trump moved in on his own.
“I think if we are going to put boots on the ground, we have to authorize the use of force,” Speier said. “That should be something debated by the Armed Services Committee and by the full House. We must engage in wars first by evaluating them and Congress taking action, not by allowing the President to act independently, which has been going on now for two decades.”
When the Assad regime violated President Barack Obama’s “red line” in 2013 with a chemical attack, the Obama administration prepared to strike Assad, before the President decided to go to Congress for authorization first.
Congress failed to pass the authorization and the US did not strike Assad, which many Republicans — including Trump — say was a decision that emboldened the Syrian leader to take further heinous actions like this week’s chemical attack. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham on Thursday called for grounding Assad’s air force in response to this week’s attack.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said in the short-term, the President has the authority to take action without getting congressional approval first.
“The prudent course of action would be for him to go to Congress and consult, discuss privately what he is going to do,” Corker said. “I’m sure they will take that course of action, or at least I hope they would. So, they have the authority without that, but my sense is that they will come to us.” Read more
April 6, 2017
Daily News
Trump claims Susan Rice committed a crime for unmasking controversy, defends Bill O’Reilly after Fox settles sex harassment claims
Embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly “is a good person,” President Trump said Wednesday, but former national security adviser Susan Rice might be a criminal.
Former President Barack Obama’s aide Rice was accused earlier this week by anonymous Trump allies of having asked “dozens” of times to reveal the redacted names of Trump staff members whose identities had been incidentally collected during surveillance on other foreign officials.
The President told The New York Times of the supposed Rice scandal, saying, “It’s going to be the biggest story.”
“It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time,” he said without providing any evidence supporting the allegations against Rice. Read more

April 5, 2017
The Washington Post
A chemical weapons attack in Syria exposes Trump’s Assad problem
It’s seemingly a bizarre line of attack for the Trump administration to choose. In 2013, the Obama administration contemplated a military response after a suspected regime chemical weapons attack on rebel-held districts in the suburbs of Damascus killed more than 1,000 people. The mounting international pressure at the time compelled Assad to agree to eliminate its chemical weapons program.
The fact that Obama chose to back off from confronting the Assad regime, which allegedly used chemical weapons numerous times in the years since, will forever haunt the former president’s legacy. Much of the Washington foreign policy establishment has excoriated him for it. But Trump in 2013 — then a private citizen with the same itchy Twitter finger — was opposed to American intervention in Syria. Read entire article here
April 4, 2017
NBC News
ISIS Calls Trump ‘Idiot’ in First Message Addressing New President
The terror group ISIS in new audio released Tuesday called President Donald Trump an Arabic term that means “idiot” and said he doesn’t know anything about Islam, according to various translations.
It appears to be the first time the terror group has referred to Trump since he took office. ISIS controls parts of Iraq and Syria, and is currently being targeted by a U.S.-led coalition.
The 36-minute audio was released by ISIS’ spokesperson, Abu Hasan al-Muhajir. The previous spokesman and the group’s second-in-command, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, was killed in an airstrike in Syria last year, ISIS and the Pentagon have said. Read more
April 3, 2017
The Hill
Trump signs internet privacy repeal
President Trump signed a bill on Monday repealing internet privacy rules passed last year by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have given internet users greater control over what service providers can do with their data, a White House spokeswoman confirmed.
The FCC regulations would have required broadband companies to get permission from their customers in order to use their “sensitive” data — including browsing history, geolocation and financial and medical information — to create targeted advertisements. Read more
April 2, 2017
The Hill
Trump team wants more raw intel, less analysis from spy agencies: report
Officials have urged the intelligence community to supply President Trump with fewer analysis reports compiled by experts and more raw intelligence, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Raw intelligence was a larger priority under the former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the report said. He was ousted last month for misleading White House officials about the contents of his discussion with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.

Many intelligence experts in the past have raised concerns about the possibility that Trump would want to sidestep data analysts during his presidency.

“The risk is that you request raw data to support a conclusion and you avoid seeing anything that contradicts it,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told The Hill in January.

“We can already see we have a president-elect who has difficulty with facts that are at odds with the narrative that he wants to tell or diminish his achievements.” Read more


March 31, 2017
The Week
President Trump forgot to actually sign this executive order
President Trump just walked out of an executive order signing without actually signing the executive order. Trump was poised to sign a pair of executive orders Friday targeting trade abuses, but a reporter’s question distracted him from signing at least one of them.
As Trump thanked the press, a reporter jumped in with a question about ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was recently denied his request for immunity in exchange for testifying before Congress about ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia’s presidential election meddling. Trump, looking visibly flustered upon being asked about Flynn, responded by walking out the door.
Before Trump could get too far, Vice President Mike Pence stopped the president and consulted with him in the doorway. Pence then picked the unsigned order off of the desk and followed Trump out of the door. See video here

March 23, 2017


March 23, 2017 UPROXX

House Republicans Have Delayed The Scheduled Trumpcare Vote After Failing To Reach A Deal

The punching bag known as Trumpcare was dealt another blow as several outlets reported the House would not be voting on the health care bill as scheduled on Thursday. While a handful of Republicans have dropped support for the plan, the House has decided that perhaps another day will make a difference, and Reuters has tweeted that Friday shall be the chosen day, although that may also change. Read more


March 23, 2017
The Hill

ObamaCare in place if repeal bill fails

President Trump warned House Republicans on Thursday that he will leave ObamaCare in place unless they approve legislation to repeal and replace it.

Trump officials meeting with the House GOP conference said Trump is done negotiating over the legislation, which was set to come up for a vote Thursday but was delayed.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the House Freedom Caucus that has been negotiating with Trump, told the GOP conference that Trump wants a vote on Friday during a dramatic closed-door meeting, according to a GOP source in the room. Read more

March 22, 2017
The Hill
It’s time for a Cybersecurity Bill of Rights
Your TV might be recording your conversations. Your email could be hacked. More and more of your personal data is being mined every day. Data breaches have become commonplace. Even your child’s doll might invite a stranger into your house.
By any measure, our privacy is in jeopardy. When our conversations are no longer private, when our personal data is being sliced and diced every which way, when we can’t expect even our messages, our photos, and our email to remain in our control, that fundamentally changes who we are and how we act. Read more

March 20, 2017
The Hill

Comey disputes Trump tweet on Russian election interference

FBI Director James Comey on Monday disputed the content of tweet from President Trump regarding Russia influencing the 2016 presidential race.

At the same time that Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testified to the House Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, the president tweeted a video from his @POTUS account, saying “the NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.” Read more

March 17, 2017
Trump to spend 7th consecutive weekend at Trump-branded property, at enormous cost to taxpayers. Read more

CNN Money
March 16, 2017

What America would look like under the Trump budget

More agents along the border, but a hobbled PBS. A bigger military, but less chance of getting a decent lawyer if you’re poor.

The budget unveiled by the Trump administration on Thursday would remake the United States — vastly expanding national defense but cutting or gutting dozens of programs that touch the lives of Americans every day.

Charter schools would get more money. But federal money would be eliminated for an agency that improves water and sewer systems in impoverished corners of Appalachia.  Read more

Russian Trump Connection Link

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