A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 35th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Graham-Cassidy, Trump-Russia, and Simpleton Donald

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Nuclear tensions with North Korea. A healthcare system with an uncertain future. 3.4 million Americans in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico without power. News of 21 state voter systems targeted by hacks. And the President of the United States is spending his time attacking…black NFL and NBA players?

Donald Trump is a simpleton. He is a simple man with a hateful, short-sighted worldview. He reveals more of his idiocy with every incoherent word and disgraces the office of the presidency with every bigoted breath. There is no way to sugarcoat this pervasive truth and it would be irresponsible to beat around it.

The media is the lens through which people perceive reality. We have a duty to hold that lens responsibly and give the people a clear view of the world we live in. The harsh truth is, this is not normal and we in the media must hold the line, take a stand, and continue to hold Donald Trump to account. And we must call President Trump’s comments about how players “should not be allowed” to kneel during the anthem what it is: A wannabe authoritarian infringement on Americans’ constitutional rights.

Every week, Donald Trump reveals more of his limited brain capacity and hateful beliefs. His startling lack of intelligence is what drives him to call North Korean Despot Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man” on the world stage while threatening to completely destroy a country of 25 million people. And his hate is what drives him to call neo-Nazis “very fine people” days after a white supremacist terrorist attack but angrily call a black athlete who chooses to exercise their First Amendment rights a “son of a bitch.”

As Donald Trump continues his pattern of blowing dog whistles for his base with over-simplified, hateful policy and rhetoric, it’s growing increasingly difficult to argue that the President doesn’t hold these views himself.

But we must not get distracted. While Trump gave us another week of revelations regarding the state of his mental health, every day we were inundated with revelations regarding the state of the Trump-Russia investigation and the state of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort has expanded drastically and so has another component of the investigation: Obstruction of justice. Developments in the Trump-Russia investigation are directly correlated with Trump’s heightened unhinged behavior.

The donor driven Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal effort trudged along and saw some setbacks but the battle isn’t over just yet…

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 35th week as POTUS:

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35th Weekend (September 16–17)

Beneath The Office

Despite the proclamations of a “new bipartisan Trump” and his 300th “reset,” President Trump proved to the pundits that he was still the same unhinged man who told his supporters they could use their 2nd Amendment rights against Hillary Clinton if she was elected.

Not only did he create a nickname for Kim Jong-un (Sorry Elton John), President Trump retweeted this gif of himself assaulting Hillary Clinton…

Our take on this was clear.

Although some laughed off Donald Trump’s Sunday morning impulsive retweet, we must remember what that really was. It was the President of the United States sharing a post depicting himself assaulting his former political opponent. If the media does not hold the line on what is unacceptable and continues to normalize his behavior, Trump will slowly chip away at what is seen as the norm. We can’t allow one man to lower the bar to such depths that he diminishes the office of the presidency any further than he already has. How far will we let him go?

Meanwhile…

The New York Times reported on a conversation their reporter overheard at a D.C. steakhouse. Ty Cobb, a lawyer Trump brought in to help oversee the Trump-Russia investigation, was heard speaking about his disagreements with White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II. It involved how much Cobb believed the lawyers should be cooperating with Mueller. McGahn lobbying for less cooperation to preserve more opportunities to invoke Executive Privilege and Cobb wanting to speed things up by turning over more documents.

Here’s a very telling excerpt from the report touching on the White House’s paranoia:

The uncertainty has grown to the point that White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller.

35th Week (September 18–22)

Monday, September 18

Crooked Manafort

Paul Manafort (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort captured headlines this week as he has come center stage in the Trump-Russia investigation. From news of wiretaps to warnings of indictments, Manafort appears to be in great peril at the hands of Robert Mueller. That’s because he is. In order to compartmentalize, I’ll give you some background on Manafort and cover all the revelations about him that unfolded throughout this week. I’m trying to make you a Manafort expert here, so bear with me.

Manafort was originally forced out of the campaign after reports of his foreign ties began to overwhelm the Trump campaign in late 2016. He worked on the campaign as an unregistered foreign agent. He finally registered in June of this year. Manafort’s story is a long one. Although Manafort did indeed meet with Russian operatives during the campaign, most of his wrongdoings happened way before 2016. From his extensive dealings with pro-Russia parties in Ukraine to being paid millions to push Russian interests in the U.S., Manafort is in deep. And as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation dives into the Trump campaign’s communications with Russian operatives and potential financial crimes (money laundering, etc) committed by Donald Trump and some of his associates, the heat is turning up on Manafort.

One of Robert Mueller’s main objectives when it comes to Manafort is to flip him into a cooperating witness in the investigation. Manafort has been subpoenaed by multiple congressional investigations and associates of his, including lobbying firms have also been subpoenaed. His son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, has met with federal investigators and provided documents related to Manafort’s possible money laundering or tax violations in his business dealings with pro-Russia parties in Ukraine. Mueller is examining these documents and is also reportedly cooperating with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to dig deeper into Manafort’s financial transactions (this state cooperation could complicate a pardon for Manafort given that a President can’t pardon state crimes).

On Monday, CNN reported that Paul Manafort was wiretapped via FISA surveillance in 2014 as part of an investigation into Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. It was discontinued and then reinstated in 2016 after investigators caught a series of odd connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Notably, the FBI wasn’t listening in during the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. The surveillance reportedly continued into early this year and involved converstations with Donald Trump. Intelligence gathered reportedly “includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.”

FBI agents conducted a pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home this past summer, obtaining documents and other materials related to the Trump-Russia investigation. This was a no-knock warrant, indicating a lack of trust on the part of the investigators. They may have believed Manafort would attempt to destroy evidence. And on Monday, we learned that Mueller issued a warning after this raid, telling Manafort that he planned to indict him. On Tuesday, we learned that Mueller’s investigation into Manafort is reportedly probing as far back as January 2006. And on Thursday, we learned that two weeks before Trump accepted the GOP nomination, Paul Manafort reportedly offered “private briefings” on the state of the 2016 election to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska. A few more things you need to know about Manafort/why he’s a shady subject of this investigation:

  • Manafort partnered with Yanukovych ally and Ukrainian billionaire, Dmytro Firtas, to redevelop a property in New York. Firtas was sued over the project, with the allegations being that it was a money laundering scheme. The project was canceled and the case was dismissed
  • Manafort served as a lobbyist and political consultant for pro-Russia Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. He started in 2004, reportedly upon the advice of Russian oligarch and close Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, and helped Yanukovych reshape his political image. His work went on for years. Manafort received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments between 2007–2012
  • Manafort reportedly had a $10 million a year contract with Oleg Deripaska. The contract was part of a plan to assert pro-Russia influence in U.S. politics and lasted from 2006–2009. Paul Manafort moved into Trump Tower in 2006
  • Manafort reportedly met twice with his former Russian-Ukrainian aide, from his Ukraine lobbying days, Konstantin Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. A Kiev operative suggests that Kilimnik may have played a role in the Trump campaign’s gutting of anti-Russian stances from the Republican Party platform. Kilimnik also sent in emails regarding Deripaska, and they met in August to speak on it. Mueller is examining this
  • Paul Manafort attended the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Russian operatives which sought to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Investigators are reportedly reviewing Manafort’s notes of the 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.” Foreigners donating to American elections is illegal

Meanwhile…

  • The Obamacare repeal effort (aka tax cut for their donors) that just won’t die, returned. Reports began dropping that the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, spear-headed by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), was gaining momentum. Will give you more details on the bill on Thursday…
  • The White House rejected a Department of Health and Human Services study that found refugees brought in $63 million more in revenue than cost to the U.S. White House senior advisor Stephen Miller continues to push their anti-refugee policies despite this positive report
  • Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. have given up their Secret Service protection
  • At the United Nations, Trump made remarks about how the United Nations needs to step its game up and also shouted out the Trump Word Tower, saying:

“I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project.”

Tuesday, September 19

“Rocket Man”

President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters — Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017 (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters — Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017 (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

President Trump gave his first address before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Rather than paint a unifying vision or a way forward, Trump depicted a world “going to hell” (his words, not mine).

Trump’s speech bashed the United Nations for mismanagement but also spoke about its potential. In typical Trump form, he essentially stated the United Nations is a disaster and he will make it great again. Although the UN does have its shortcomings, (bureaucratic problems, etc), Trump’s characterization of the organization was an oversimplified exaggeration, much like all his statements tend to be. Trump went on to threaten “to totally destroy North Korea” and repeat the nickname he coined for Kim Jong-un on Twitter, “Rocket Man,” playing right into the North Korean Dictator’s hands.

Trump lamented Iran, Syria, and Venezuela but one nation which arguably deserved its own tangent after interfering in the 2016 election, was missing from his fierce list of condemnations, aside from a brief mention of Ukraine.

For a more thorough breakdown of the UNGA, bookmark this:

Donald Trump Brings His Brand Of Fear-Mongering To The World Stage

Meanwhile…

  • Mueller’s obstruction of justice probe on the part of President Trump moved forward. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller has interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Comey’s firing. More on that in a bit…
  • After Reuters and CNN reported that the RNC has paid $230,000 of Trump’s legal fees related to the Trump-Russia investigation “RNC spokesperson Cassie Smedile confirmed it to Reuters that Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, received $100,000 from the RNC and that the RNC also paid $131,250”
  • Trump’s non-scientist, climate denying nominee to lead NASA (yes, that’s real sentence) Rep. Jim Bridenstine indicated that he would like to study climate change on Mars but not Earth…
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee canceled a private hearing with Trump’s personal Lawyer Michael Cohen, who has now agreed to a public hearing set for October 25th. Of interest is not only Cohen’s dealings with Trump’s longtime mob-connected associate, Felix Sater when trying to set up the Trump Tower Moscow deal during the campaign. A quick refresher:

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 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. Cohen has said that he sent that email upon recommendation from Felix Sater.

Wednesday, September 20

Donors > People

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., center, listens as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, speaks, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., center, listens as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, speaks, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

While Trump was at the G20, Senate Republicans held a press conference on Tuesday discussing their efforts to repeal Obamacare with their new full repeal effort triggering Jimmy Kimmel to do a follow-up to his viral video where he discussed his son’s open heart surgery and called on Congress not to price people out of healthcare:

Kimmel spoke on how one of the engineers of the bill, Senator Cassidy coined the phrase the “Jimmy Kimmel test” which was about how no family should be denied care because they can’t afford it or due to a pre-existing condition. The fallout from this continued on Wednesday, as the discussion surrounding Graham-Cassidy took center stage. As it turns out, Cassidy’s own bill does not pass the test he created.

In a nutshell, Graham-Cassidy does the following:

1: Removes cost control measures, which will allow insurers (or states) to price people with preexisting conditions out of the ability to obtain healthcare insurance.

2: Removes subsidies provided to help low and middle-income families afford healthcare coverage.

3: Removes the Medicaid expansion program that covered some of the poorest populations, mostly children and elderly.

4: Takes money from 30 states who implemented the Medicaid expansion and dispersed it among all 50.

How The Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill Could Kill Me And Possibly Millions

This bill isn’t like the Skinny repeal that was defeated this summer. This is a full repeal of Obamacare and Graham, Cassidy, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are trying to ram this bill through before the September 30th reconciliation deadline so they can still pass it with 50 votes (+ 1 VP Mike Pence tie-breaker vote). So, they want this dangerous bill to go through before a comprehensive analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is released. A New York Times report dropped later this week and revealed that what is fueling the latest frantic push for repeal is due to pressure from donors as Republicans fear future funds drying up.

The vote is likely to occur next week and they can only afford to lose 2 of the 52 GOP Senators. As of Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only hard no, with speculation surrounding Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AL). This would change by Friday…

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Meanwhile…

  • Turkey’s authoritarian leader President Tayyip Erdoğan said that President Trump apologized to him after Erdoğan’s goons beat up U.S. protestors in D.C. in May

  • News of HHS Secretary Tom Price spending tens of thousands of dollars taxpayer dollars on private flights continued flow. By the end of the week, we learned that the real number was above $300,000 spent on about 24 flights
  • First Lady Melania Trump gave a speech at the United Nations condemning bullying:

“We must teach each child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of the kindness, mindfulness, integrity, and leadership which can only be taught by example…By our own example we must teach children to be good stewards of the world they will inherit…We must remember that they are watching and listening so we must never miss an opportunity to teach life’s many ethical lessons along the way.”

Many pointed out the hypocrisy of this…including me.

  • As Category 4 Hurricane Maria swept over Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory desperately tried to stay strong as all their power was knocked out

Thursday, September 21

Robert Mueller Takes It Up 13 Notches

(Rantt News/Maddie Anderson)

(Rantt News/Maddie Anderson)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the extremely competent investigative monster of President Trump’s own making. Trump’s move to fire James Comey in an effort to end the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia did the exact opposite. The investigation, which Comey began in July 2016, was then dramatically expedited. From there, we had the series of events that led up to Robert Mueller’s appointment and since it has come under his command, the investigation has expanded in scope. Now, it has reached the President himself.

The New York Times dropped a report that shows to the extent Mueller stepped up his investigation into the White House. According to White House Officials, Mueller has sought documents regarding 13 areas of interest. The requests include communications related to Carter Page and Paul Manafort, the firing of Comey, Trump’s Oval Office Meeting with Russians, Trump’s Air Force One crafted statement about the June 2016 meeting, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Here‘s why Mueller wants info on these circumstances of interest:

The Firing Of James Comey

3 of the requests are pertaining to the decisions and statements surrounding President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey. It seems quite clear Trump fired Comey because he was eager to end the investigation into his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia, and from what we got from Comey’s June 8, 2017, testimony, that appears to be the case. Comey’s prepared opening statement confirmed President Trump’s demand for loyalty in a private dinner, Trump’s request to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and that Comey did indeed write detailed memos of all his interactions with Trump.

These details combined with President Trump’s own admission that he had the Trump-Russia investigation in mind when he fired Comey and his comments to Russian officials in the Oval Office further bolstering this admission, has led Mueller to investigate the possibility of obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice was President Richard Nixon’s First Article of Impeachment. These are serious charges, and given the evidence, these charges should be taken seriously.

Oval Office Meeting With Russian Officials

Mueller has also requested documents pertaining to Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian representatives. In May, the day after firing Comey, President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. In that meeting, not only did he boast about highly classified intelligence, revealing the location of an Israeli-provided intelligence source critical to the fight against ISIS, Trump appeared to give confirmation that he fired James Comey in an attempt to end the Trump-Russia investigation. The New York Times reported:

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

June 9, 2016 Trump Tower Meeting Statement

As we know, Donald Trump Jr. held a meeting at Trump Tower after he was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton…he 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. Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Russian operatives were in attendance.

The email from Rob Goldstone to Trump Jr. that set up the meeting explicitly stated what the meeting was about, and it’s hard to believe that Trump Sr., a known micromanager, was not made aware of this email exchange or the Trump Tower meeting. Trump Sr. was at Trump Tower the day of the meeting and sent this tweet out about 40 minutes after the meeting was set to begin.

We’ve since learned that the initial misleading account of the meeting that came from Donald Trump Jr. was personally dictated by President Trump on Air Force one while he was at the G20 summit.

Fynn’s Calls With Kislyak

4 of the requests were related to Flynn. Michael Flynn came on board as Trump’s national security adviser (NSA) in early 2016. He advised Trump throughout the campaign and went on to be Trump’s NSA in the White House. Flynn was forced to resign from his position after he was caught lying about the December 2016 phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kisylak where he discussed easing sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile…

  • Trump mispronounced the nation of Namibia as Nambia, and praised this non-existent countries healthcare

Friday, September 22

The President Who Hasn’t Read The Constitution

President Donald Trump (AP)

President Donald Trump (AP)

By Trump’s own admission, he doesn’t read much. Claims he has no time. Well, I’d suggest he read the document which defines his role in government because he clearly doesn’t know or understand the office in which he sits. On Friday night, President Trump held a rally in Alabama that was supposed to be an endorsement of Senator Luther Strange, but instead, he once again proved how little he thinks of this country, its values, and its people. But before that, he spent the morning tweeting.

From tweets against Rand Paul to Hillary Clinton, Trump went off. He also responded to Kim Jong-un’s new threat (triggered by Trump’s unhinged UN speech) of detonated a hydrogen bomb in the pacific and displayed his paranoia by trying to claim that the Russian troll ads that Facebook was going to turn over to Congress were part of “the Russia hoax.”

It was clear Trump was deflecting and feeling uneasy about how quickly Mueller’s investigation was moving.

Speaking of Russia, the White House decided to use a Friday news dump on Department Homeland Security findings that 21 states had their voter systems targeted by hackers during the 2016 election. 3 states claimed that the hacks may have come from Russia and Illinois was the only state that was breached. Still waiting on more information regarding this report. It was very light on details.

As the day progressed, news of John McCain’s announced opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill likely also rattled Trump. The rally was clearly going to be unhinged, but as far as exactly how unhinged it would be and who he’d attack, we had no idea what was coming. Aside from complaining about the Trump-Russia investigation, saying “You’ve got to speak to Jeff Sessions about that," when the crowd shouted “lock her up!” about Hillary Clinton, and attacking Kim Jong-un once more, he turned to the NFL. Not only did he idiotically call their new concussion rules “soft” days after now-deceased NFL player Aaron Hernandez was found to have had severe CTE, President Trump took aim at American’s First Amendment rights.

Once again, our take was clear.

This understandably bled into the weekend, as #TakeAKnee and #TakeTheKnee trended on Saturday and Sunday. This protest that started as Colin Kaepernick kneeling in resistance to police brutality, has morphed into an all-inclusive movement that opposes the President and his agenda. President Trump decided he had not pissed enough people off, so he went on to go after NBA Champion Stephen Curry.

This continued a pattern. Trump went from attacking Jemele Hill, to Colin Kaepernick, and now Stephen Curry — All black. Lebron James stood by his NBA colleague.

As Twitter continued to erupt, Trump took to Twitter again and doubled down.

Also, more threats of Nuclear Holocaust.

Going into Sunday, while Trump took to Twitter…

Players took to their knees while their fellow players, and owners stood with their arms linked in solidarity.

No matter what Donald Trump does, he will not divide us. By desperately trying to push people apart, he is merely bringing people together in united opposition to his oppressive agenda.

Donald Trump actually is making America great again, just not in the way he intended.

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