A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 32nd Unpresidented Week As POTUS
A tragic flood, a nuclear test, and a Robert Mueller. Donald Trump had a challenging week.
As Houston grappled with catastrophic flooding, President Trump grappled with an endless flow of damning reports that indicated the Trump-Russia investigation is moving full speed ahead and expanding in scope.
North Korea made one of their biggest provocations thus far, testing an administration that is having a hard time deterring its own president from tweeting, let alone a foreign power from nuclear proliferation.
And we saw President Trump come to a Labor Day weekend decision on DACA, playing to his base and alienating the masses. Proving once again that he is obsessed with rolling back any and every Obama-era policy, regardless of how much that policy means to people.
It’s clear now that anything with Obama’s name attached to it is on Trump’s chopping block. Obama could’ve cured cancer and Trump would discontinue it with a six-month delay and ask Congress for a “legislative solution.”
Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 32nd week as POTUS:
“The President Speaks For Himself”
President Trump ended the previous week with a mid-hurricane pardon of former Arizona Sheriff, and current racist, Joe Arpaio. Not only was Arpaio convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a court order demanding he stop racially profiling Latinos, his crime was in violation of the 4th amendment of the Constitution.
Arpaio was convicted of defying court order to stop violating #4thAmendment. It's a pardon of a govt official who ignored Bill of Rights.
What makes Trump’s pardoning of Arpaio even more abhorrent are his past grievances which include running an inhumane outdoor jail or as he called it, a “concentration camp,” of illegal immigrants where he forced a pregnant woman to give birth in shackles and reportedly tortured a paraplegic until he broke his neck. But to President Trump, who had been eager to pardon the former Sheriff for months going as far as to ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions if there was a way to drop the case, Arpaio is a “patriot” and the pardon was justified. And why did he do it in the middle of Hurricane Harvey? Well, he gave us an explanation for that too.
In the middle of the hurricane, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally," Pres. Trump says of Arpaio pardon. https://t.co/Og9YWtI3Sb
The pardon set off a firestorm of opposition, including people within his own party. Both Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake chimed in.
Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.
And over the weekend, President Trump faced some subtle and not-so-subtle opposition from members of his Cabinet. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made headlines when he essentially distanced himself from President Trump, asserting that Trump speaks for himself and not for American values.
Must-watch. Wallace asks Tillerson if Trump speaks for American values: "The President speaks for himself." (Note Wallace's reaction.) https://t.co/fHEk6qjwPd
And Secretary of Defense James Mattis gave a speech that was seen as a subtle rebuke of the president.
This is the largest flash flood emergency I've ever seen issued by @NWSHouston. "Epic catastrophic flooding.
- The effects of Hurricane Harvey continued to ravage Texas as they experienced a 1 in 1,000-year flood. There would be great loss in the coming days but also great acts of heroism from rescuers and average Americans turned heroes. President Trump also began taking some criticism for his scattered early response to Hurricane Harvey
HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible.Thanks!
Many claimed that Trump still hadn’t expressed any remorse for the people who were affected by the storm. He only wanted to speak about how well things were going. And also, he promoted David Clarke’s book on Sunday, which prompted responses like this…
My city is underwater. People losing everything. Unrelenting storm. Medical/1st responders on NO sleep. Thanks for book recommendation, tho. https://t.co/T70sDWkRmM
- By the time the weekend was over, minutes before the Game of Thrones finale, a Washington Post report revealed that a Trump Tower in Moscow deal, facilitated by Felix Sater, was pursued while Donald Trump was running for office. And just like that, the Trump-Russia investigation was center stage again…
32nd Week (August 28 — September 1)
Monday, August 28
Trump Tower Moscow
By the end of Monday, we had a clearer picture of what the Trump Tower Moscow deal entailed. The Washington Post reported that in late 2015 and early 2016, while Donald Trump was running for president, the Trump Organization sought to develop a huge Trump Tower in Moscow. Donald Trump signed a letter of intent in 2015, four months into his presidential campaign, to pursue this venture. Felix Sater urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get Russian President Vladimir Putin to say ‘great things’ about Trump….
Sater wrote to then Trump Organization Executive Vice President (now Trump’s personal lawyer) Michael Cohen, something to the effect of, “Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a president?’” In the emails, Sater went on to brag about how this deal would help Trump get the presidency…
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process…” In another email, Mr. Sater envisioned a ribbon-cutting in Moscow. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Mr. Sater wrote.
According to The New York Times, the emails reportedly show that in the early days of the campaign, some Trump officials viewed close ties to Moscow as a political advantage. The deal fell through in January 2016 right before the presidential primaries. Cohen reportedly sought to revive the talks, sending an email that same month, seeking help from Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aid. The Kremlin has confirmed that this email exchange did occur. Cohen has said that he sent that email upon recommendation from Felix Sater. It’s important to note that this isn’t the first time Trump and Sater have tried to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
And this wasn’t the last time Sater and Cohen would collaborate.
January 2017: Michael Cohen & Felix Sater drafted a back-channel pro-Russia Ukraine peace deal & gave it to Flynn https://t.co/Qena1R3E2b
So who is Felix Sater you ask?
Sater, a Russian-born Mafia-linked criminal, joined Bayrock in 1999. Trump started building Trump SoHo along with Sater and three Russian oligarchs under investigation for money laundering. The project would ultimately start a criminal investigation in 2011, which Trump and his partners settled by refunding over $3 million in down payments on the condos. Trump has repeatedly denied that he knows Sater despite the evidence via email and sworn depositions that he was a close family friend and lived in Trump Tower. Sater is already reportedly cooperating with an international investigation into a money laundering network.
You can see how he fits into the bigger picture here:
- When asked whether or not he considered Russia to be a security threat, Trump once again showed his aversion to criticizing Russia by dodging the question: “I consider many countries as a security threat, unfortunately, when you look at what’s going on in the world today”
- Trump rolled back Obama-era restrictions on local police obtaining surplus military gear
- North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over Northern Japan
- As the flood waters rose in Houston Texas, US Coast Guard Lt. Mike Hart said that over 3,000 people had been saved by boat and air rescues
Tuesday, August 29
Robert Mueller And Houston, Texas
As President Trump spent his day in Houston, Texas meeting with officials taking on the tragic flooding, the torrent of Trump-Russia news kept flowing. NBC News reported the night before that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether or not President Donald Trump tried to conceal the nature of the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and Russian operatives. As we know, this was the meeting Donald Trump Jr. accepted after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Jr. was explicitly told that the information being offered was part of the Russian government’s effort to aid Donald Trump Sr. and enthusiastically took the meeting anyway.
The meeting was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, the Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rob Goldstone, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin (has testified before Mueller’s grand jury), Russian interpreter and a representative for Aras Agalarov, Ike Kaveladze.
We’ve since learned that the initial misleading account of the meeting that came from Donald Trump Jr. was personally dictated by President Trump while he was at the G20 summit, which is what has caught Mueller’s attention. Why did President Trump feel the need to characterize a meeting that he was supposedly unaware of? And why lie?
- Before President Trump set off on his trip to Houston he got his early morning Fox News fix. He responded to Laura Ingraham’s remarks on Fox and Friends, stating that he was deliberately understaffing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
President Trump arrived in a Houston that was devastated by the Hurricane Harvey. By Tuesday, the death toll was rising, the rainfall had reached 51.88 inches, and more than 3,500 people had been rescued. So the first thing Trump did was share his condolences for the victims, right? Not exactly.
Trump to hurricane victims in Corpus Christi, TX: "Thank you everybody. What a crowd, what a turnout." (via Reuters) https://t.co/kVe3f8NmTL
Trump’s boasting about crowd size drew more criticism for a lack of remorse. Trump still hadn’t mentioned the victims.
What a contrast. This is Obama after Sandy. This is Trump after Harvey "rally": "What a crowd, what a turnout
- In response to North Korea’s missile firing over Japan, Trump said that “all options are on the table”
- Continuing his obsession with rolling back anything that has Obama’s name on it, the White House announced that they are rolling back an Obama-era gender equality measure that required companies to report how much they pay their workers of various genders and races
- For the purpose of his investigation into potential financial crimes committed by Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller subpoenaed Manafort’s former attorney and spokesman seeking testimony
- Trump Jr. has agreed to meet privately with the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the Trump-Russia probe
Wednesday, August 30
Border Wall > Disaster Relief
In the middle of a flood unlike anything the U.S. has ever experienced, the AP reported that House Republicans are eyeing a $876 million cut to FEMA’s disaster relief account to fund President Trump’s unnecessary border wall with Mexico. This would only cover half of the down-payment to begin construction on the wall…
As this news came, many pointed Trump’s infrastructure Executive Order he signed a few weeks back that rolls back former President Obama’s executive order to require projects built in flood plains with federal aid to take sea level rise caused by climate change into consideration prior to projects being initiated.
Bottom line: People can point to the optics of Trump’s visits to Texas to cite his handling of the disaster but the real way to measure this is by the resources he allocates to preventing this in the future. And as long as he denies the existence of climate change, and doesn’t implement measures designed to combat or prepare for its effects, then he gets a failing grade from me for disaster response.
- President Trump called to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Wednesday to make a pledge to federal support for biofuel ethanol, an industry Grassley is a major supporter of. This was seen as an odd move given the fact that Grassley’s committee had just come to an agreement to privately interview President Trump’s son in the Trump-Russia investigation…
- The Senate Intelligence Committee wants testimony from Michael Cohen, who has given Congress a point-by-point rebuttal to the Christopher Steele’s famous Trump-Russia dossier
- President Trump gave a speech on tax reform
- President Trump continued his attempts at Twitter diplomacy
The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!
Mattis undercut him by stating that “we are never out of diplomatic solutions.”
Thursday, August 31
Pardon My Collusion
On Thursday, the Trump-Russia investigation went up a couple notches. Quite a few stories dropped. Investigators are reportedly reviewing Manafort’s notes on the Trump Tower meeting which “contained the words ‘donations,’ and ‘RNC’ in close proximity.” According to NBC News, congressional investigators who are examining the meeting are “focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party.”
President Trump’s legal team has sent memos to Special Counsel Robert Mueller arguing against the notion that Trump obstructed justice when firing former FBI Director James Comey (a sign that part of the investigation is heating up). Speaking of investigations into Trump, Mueller has reportedly teamed up with the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit, which has 2,500 agents who focus on financial crimes like tax evasion and money laundering (crimes Trump has been widely accused of). Yes, that means Mueller may have access to Trump’s tax returns.
But the portion of the story I want to really dive in here is the report that Mueller is now cooperating with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to dig deeper into Manafort’s financial transactions. This cooperation with a State AG throws a wrench into Trump’s reported plan to pardon his associated and himself. Let me explain.
If Manafort was charged with a state crime, Manafort can’t be pardoned since a president can’t pardon state-level crimes. If other Trump associates (or Trump himself) were to be implicated in state-level crimes, the same would apply to them. If the possibility of a presidential pardon were to be off the table, that could make Trump associates more likely to cooperate with investigators.
And when it comes to President Trump, as the law currently stands, the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled that a president can be charged while in office, so in order for Trump to be removed from office, he’d have to either be impeached or the 25th Amendment would have to be invoked. Given President Trump’s waning political capital and record low approval rating, it’s growing less likely that Republican representatives will protect him if Mueller finds criminal activity.
Let’s say Trump is found guilty of crimes and removed from office, could his successor pardon him? Yes. But if he’s charged with state-level crimes, then his successor could only pardon him for federal charges, and he would have to face whatever penalties those state-level charges may bring…
- After Putin expelled 755 U.S. diplomats from Russia, the U.S. has finally retaliated by closing down some Russian consulates in San Francisco (smoke was seen coming from the chimney a few days after this was ordered), Washington, and New York. But no Russian diplomats are being expelled. Looks like Trump’s first reaction was an accurate portrayal of how this administration feels about Russia
- Trump’s Health and Human Services Department, led by Tom Price, cut the Obamacare marketing budget by 90%
- Mattis signed an order deploying additional troops to Afghanistan. The amount was not officially confirmed by the Pentagon but Reuters is reporting that their sources say it is 4,000
Friday, September 1
Obstruction Of Comey
Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice probe continued to heat up. The New York Times reported that Mueller now has an early draft letter created by President Trump and his senior adviser Stephen Miller which “offered an unvarnished view of Mr. Trump’s thinking in the days before the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.” Trump intended to give this to Comey but White House counsel Donald F. McGahn pushed back, thinking that it would be problematic. The decision was then made to have Deputy Attorney AG Rod Rosenstein create a new rationale for the firing of Comey, which ended up being the unbelievable reason that he mistreated Hillary Clinton in the email probe (a view many on the left share but not one Trump shares).
The details of the letter have not been revealed but one needs only to look to Trump’s own words to discern why he fired Comey.
In order to be guilty of obstruction of justice, one doesn’t have to successfully obstruct an investigation. The law clearly states that anyone who “endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense).” Comey’s congressional testimony showcased a detailed report of President Trump making multiple attempts to influence an investigation that is targeting his campaign. Trump himself declared on multiple occasions, including the one above, that he fired Comey in an effort to end the Trump-Russia investigation.
- In a move clearly meant to take the heat off of President Trump, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accused James Comey of drafting a letter displaying his intent to exonerate Clinton two months before he publicly did so. Trump chimed in
Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more. A rigged system!
- Long-time Trump advisor Keith Schiller has left the White House
Labor Day Weekend (September 2–4)
North Korea had it’s sixth nuclear test on Saturday which it claims to have been a hydrogen bomb. The detonation sent tremors through South Korea and China. Secretary of Defense James Mattis responded by stating “any threat to the United States or its territory, including Guam or our allies, will be met with a massive military response.” President Trump took to Twitter.
North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States…..
North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.
South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!
The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.
- President Trump made his second visit to Texas. He wasn’t acting unhinged so naturally, he garnered praise from cable news hosts
Media treats Trump like an abusive boyfriend. He's nice for a day & it's "oh my, he's changing!" Until he's back to beating you with tweets
- Politico reported that President Trump has decided to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era program that grants work permits to 800,000 children of illegal immigrants with a six month delay to give Congress a chance to introduce a legislative solution
The news of Trump deciding to end DACA (protects 800k Dreamers) comes on a Sunday night on Labor Day weekend… Cruel https://t.co/lbjpLAJOeS
These are individuals who are productive members of American society. Trump’s move drew backlash from Republicans from Speaker Paul Ryan to Jeff Flake.
DACA children "should not be punished for the sins of their parents," says Sen. Jeff Flake #CNNSOTU
With 800,000 people’s futures hanging in the balance, Congress better act appropriately…