A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 39th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
America is waging a war with itself. I’m not talking about Steve Bannon’s “war on the GOP establishment” or the war between red-America and blue-America. I’m talking about the never-ending war over the American psyche.
At the center of this war is the very clear choice between common decency or moral degeneration. Between human rights or authoritarianism. Intelligence or idiocy. Truth or deception. And the chief war monger is Donald Trump, relentlessly prodding his tiny finger at the worst impulses within American society. In this manner, the week was no different than the previous 38.
One of this week’s most disconcerting revelations was that Chief of Staff John Kelly isn’t the man we hoped he could be. Rather than seizing the opportunity to be a necessary sanity check on the President, Kelly has merely provided structure from which Trump can more effectively execute his insanity.
At the forefront of this week’s exhausting discourse was a cruel condolence call from the President and a slandering lie from the Chief of Staff.
In the background, a disastrous budget that cuts Medicare by $473 billion and Medicaid by $1 trillion moved through Congress. An under-discussed White House memo further detailing this administration’s war on women’s rights was leaked. A confusing series of flip-flops delayed a healthcare bill that was set to stabilize the healthcare market. And reports about Russia’s interference revealed just how complex and intrusive Putin’s efforts truly were.
And while the media was too busy interrogating gold star families on the content of their condolence calls with President Trump, the most important question of the week remained unanswered…What exactly happened in Niger?
In spite of this exhausting week, there was one bright spot illuminated by a movement of millions of brave women proving that they will not be silenced. Two simple words delivered a massive blow to rape culture and a resounding message to perpetrators and unwitting enablers of sexual assault around the world: enough is enough.
Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 39th week as POTUS:
39th Weekend (October 14–15)
On Sunday, in a powerful show of solidarity, millions of women shared their stories of overcoming sexual assault and in some cases, exposed their perpetrators. From women being abused in the workplace by men they worked for to being abused in their homes by men they once trusted, the stories were heartbreaking.
This came after dozens of women in the entertainment industry came forward with their stories exposing disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein’s lifetime of sexual assault. Over the course of the week, the result of #MeToo was overwhelming, with men in entertainment and media losing their jobs due to being outed for their sick actions.
The movement was sparked by actress Alyssa Milano on Twitter and then bled over to Facebook, and even into the U.S. Senate. CBS reports:
On Facebook, there were more than 12 million posts, comments, and reactions in less than 24 hours, by 4.7 million users around the world, according to the company. In the U.S., Facebook said 45 percent of users have had friends who posted “me too.”
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.
Even some of the most powerful women in government are saying #MeToo. Four senators told us of their experiences. https://t.co/nObofbzDZa
The most powerful thing you can say to a survivor of abuse is not I’m sorry. It’s these three words: I BELIEVE YOU. #MeToo
Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story.
Over the weekend, seemingly unsatisfied with the case he’s been making that he doesn’t care about the harmful consequences of his actions, President Trump took to Twitter to brag about harming American companies, and by extension, the American people depending on those companies for healthcare coverage.
Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!
Very proud of my Executive Order which will allow greatly expanded access and far lower costs for HealthCare. Millions of people benefit!
President Trump claimed that his recent moves will decrease costs and benefit millions. Like we discussed in last week’s Unpresidented, it will do the exact opposite.
According to an August Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, cutting the Obamacare cost-sharing reduction subsidy will actually cause over a million to go uninsured, hike premiums by 20%, and raise the deficit by $194 billion. 18 states have already sued Trump for halting these payments. This sent a jolt into the Healthcare market. Analysts have predicted this may even cause insurers to jump ship.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans released a joint statement expressing opposition to the move:
“This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted. These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences.”
Having spoken to people who may lose coverage for the care they desperately need to survive and folks whose premiums will spike due to Trump’s moves on Thursday, we did not hold back in our take. Lives are at stake. These are real people and Trump just can’t see them as anything other than numbers in his political game. Trump has literally held the American people’s healthcare hostage in order to leverage a bill he wants passed in Congress. We at the Rantt Editorial Board have yet to call the President an evil man, but when he targets the most vulnerable Americans for the sake of a nonsensical, ego-driven crusade to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy, we had a hard time finding another way to describe this heinous act.
Trump doesn’t care this will cost lives He’s targeted minorities, the poor, now the sick… Such a short-sighted, moronic, evil human being https://t.co/2nQPMsXvKA
- Trump’s former Chief Strategist and current Breitbart hooligan Steve Bannon spoke at the Values Voters Summit and lambasted the GOP and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. His “war on the establishment” garnered applause from the crowd…
- In a new FEC filing on Sunday, it was revealed that over the last three months, the Trump campaign has paid $1.1 million in legal fees covering the Trump-Russia investigation. This was twice as much as the previous 3 months.
- South Korea and the U.S. have begun five days of joint naval drills.
- In a fitting end to the weekend of #MeToo, former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos who has accused Donald Trump of groping her, “subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to ‘any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.’”
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39th Week (October 16–20)
Monday, October 16
A Blatant Lie And The Mystery Of Niger
After having lunch with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) amid tension between Steve Bannon and the Republican Party, President Trump held a press conference in the Rose Garden where he said him and McConnell were on good terms. But this wasn’t the only thing he said.
When asked why he hadn’t uttered a word about the 4 American soldiers who were ambushed and killed by 50–100 (depending on who you ask) ISIS-affiliated fighters in Niger on October 4th, President Trump stated a blatant lie asserting that President Obama and other former Presidents didn’t call the families of soldiers who were killed in action. Clearly, that is false. It was fact-checked in real time by NBC News reporter Peter Alexander.
Stop the damn lying – you’re the President. I went to Dover AFB with 44 and saw him comfort the families of both the fallen military & DEA.
POTUS 43 & 44 and first ladies cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families. Not politics. Sacred Trust.
But I’m not going to focus on this lie. I’m going to focus on the important matter at hand. Why hadn’t President Trump spoken about what happened in Niger? What happened in Niger? What we know so far bears more questions than answers…
There were conflicting accounts of the events from U.S. and Nigerien officials regarding whether or not the troops were in pursuit of the insurgents, but over the course of the week, a clearer picture of what transpired came together.
U.S. troops were first deployed to Niger in 2013 by President Obama to analyze the growing threat of Islamic extremism in Northern Africa. There are about 800 U.S. troops deployed to Niger now gathering intelligence on ISIS and Al-Qaeda affiliated groups sprouting up in the region.
When it comes to this ambush, the Department of Defense has stated that there were 12 U.S. troops who were ambushed by 40–50 ISIS affiliated insurgents while on a routine patrol in Niger. But The New York Times spoke to both U.S. and Nigerien officials and got a clearer picture from both accounts. They report that there were 100 insurgents on motorcycles that ambushed a group of 50 Nigerien and U.S. troops after they were leaving a village.
The U.S.-Nigerien troops were driving pick-up trucks when they were attacked by the armed insurgents. 4 Americans were killed, including two Green Berets, and two Americans were wounded. Six Nigeriens were wounded. The four Americans killed were Staff Sergeant Bryan C. Black, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sergeant Dustin M. Wright, and Sergeant La David Johnson.
There was a firefight that took place for 2–3 hours and then French helicopters, CNN reports the evacuators were private contractors, finally arrived for rescue…but Sergeant La David Johnson was left behind.
For some reason, it took 48 hours to recover his body, which was a mile away from the ambush site. Sergeant La David Johnson wasn’t able to have an open casket funeral, which suggests that his body may have been mutilated. There were some reports indicating that he might’ve still been alive when he was left behind due to his locator being active. The New York Times report suggested that Sergeant La David Johnson’s truck got stuck in the mud which is what led him to be separated from the rest of the troops, but this has yet to be verified by U.S. officials.
The ambush was reportedly a result of “massive intelligence failure.” The area was deemed to be lower risk than it really was.
There was no U.S. overhead surveillance of the mission, he said, and no American quick-reaction force available to rescue the troops if things went wrong. If it weren’t for the arrival of French fighter jets, he said, things could have been much worse for the Americans.
Later in the week, we learned that there was a statement drafted by White House staff immediately after the Niger ambush, but President Trump refused to deliver it. That may be because he did not want to draw attention to an ambush that would reflect poorly on his administration.
Like the rest of Americans, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) — chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — demanded answers, threatening to subpoena info about the attack.
We need answers. Did the U.S. use a private contractor for their rescue efforts? How could U.S. Intelligence be so off that they missed a threat of this magnitude?
Why was Sergeant La David Johnson left behind?
- After being awarded the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center, John McCain slammed Trump’s brand of politics. Later in the week, a few former Presidents had some words of their own.
- In a dangerous move, the Environmental Protection Agency (if you can even call it that anymore) led by Scott Pruitt, has increased the safe level of radiation to ten times what the Obama administration had in place.
Tuesday, October 17
A Buried Lede
While the U.S. was gripped by the controversy surrounding Trump’s latest lie, there was a report dropped by a Russia based news agency and verified by CNN that revealed another layer of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. An investigation by RBC Magazine detailed how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s $2.3 million Troll Factory operation worked. It’s suspected to be funded by Putin’s chef Yevgeny Prigozhin. Rantt Politech Editor Greg Fish, who speaks fluent Russian, was among the first to cover the story which had a particularly important detail:
And there’s one more hidden bombshell. In the troll factory’s attempts to spill their propaganda into the offline world, they worked with 100 or so activists in the United States who wanted to spread the pro-Trump message. The trolls pretended to be fellow Republicans sympathetic to Trump’s message and reimbursed a number of travel and media-related expenses incurred by those activists. The political junkie from Florida who really wanted to meet like-minded would-be Trump voters on one of the 118 core social media accounts set up by the trolls was actually interacting with a 20 to 30 year old Russian man or woman sitting behind a desk in Northeast Russia after responding to a vague job ad months prior.
This is very much on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s radar as he investigates Trump’s links to shady Russian interests, but the damage has already been done. These pages and ads on Facebook have been shared hundreds of millions of times before they were deleted, and millions of Americans using the social media platform saw them thanks to hyper-targeted algorithms and a $100,000 ad buy by the trolls. So if you’re wondering how effective these propaganda operations were, the rather disturbing answer seems to be, very. In fact, the targeting was so spot on, one of the questions Mueller’s team is seriously considering is whether the Trump campaign may have helped the troll factories with it.
RUS trolls rolled Trump voters so hard https://t.co/7sNSrK6gpy
- Rather than back down, President Trump carried on his lie about President Obama by making the despicable move of using the death of John Kelly’s son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert M. Kelly, who was killed in Afghanistan 7 years ago, as a political prop. President Trump said “you could ask General Kelly did he get a call from Obama.”
The White House pushed this claim, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly behind the leak “on background.”
JUST IN: President Obama did not call Gen. John Kelly when his son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, White House official tells NBC News
Although Obama didn’t call Kelly, he did honor him.
@PeterAlexander on MSNBC: Kelly and wife went to 2011 Gold Star families WH breakfast, sat at FLOTUS’s table, per source familiar w/event.
And here we were, debating frivolous nonsense when the question of Niger still remained a mystery.
- Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer was interviewed for “much of the day” on Monday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Spicer had first-hand knowledge of the day to day affairs that took place in the White House. Spicer will likely be able to aid Mueller in his obstruction of justice investigation.
- The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who had just recently declined to testify in the Trump-Russia investigation. You can find more info about where Carter Page fits into the investigation here.
- Trump responded to McCain’s jabs by saying he should be careful because “at some point, I fight back”
- Another day, another Trump travel ban banned. The same judge in Hawaii who blocked some of his previous iterations has blocked the President’s latest attempt. The next day, a second judge blocked Trump’s ban.
- Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) came to an agreement on a bipartisan bill that would fund the Obamacare subsidies that President Trump just cut. Oddly, the White House expressed support for the bill. But this was not the end of the story…
Wednesday, October 18
“He Knew What He Signed Up For”
This was when the week took an even darker turn. After being called out for his silence on Niger, President Trump called the families of those who were lost. And much like in the Niger ambush, Sergeant La David Johnson had a different experience than his counterparts.
Trump to widow of Sgt. La David Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for” https://t.co/ZKREENMCjA
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who was in the car with Johnson’s pregnant widow Myeshia Johnson and his family during the phone call, told reporters that in the phone call President Trump told Mrs. Johnson that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway.” Rep. Wilson also said that Mrs. Johnson was crying throughout the phone call and that after she got off the phone, she said President Trump didn’t even remember Sergeant Johnson’s name.
President Trump disputed this, of course, claiming he has proof.
Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!
Yes. Proof. We’re still waiting on proof Obama was born in Kenya and that millions voted illegally…but I digress.
Sergeant La David Johnson’s mother Cowanda Jones-Johnson then confirmed the Congresswoman’s characterization of the phone call, stating that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
After Trump’s blatant lie, mom of #SgtLaDavidJohnson confirmed Trump did tell Johnson’s widow “he knew what he signed up for” Disgusting https://t.co/Tuj9rSLugj
Do I think President Trump called this pregnant widow with the intention to make her cry? No. But I do think this is clearly indicative of his inability to feel true empathy with other humans. Trump should leave these phone calls to people who aren’t narcissistic sociopaths, in my unprofessional opinion.
Two weeks ago, the #MAGA crowd screamed about how kneeling during the anthem was disrespectful to soldiers. & now this. #SgtLaDavidJohnson
Later in the week, another lie was revealed. Trump said he had called nearly every family who lost a loved one in the military. It was revealed that not only was this false, the White House doesn’t have an updated list of service members who have been killed.
Lying about crowd size is stupid. Lying about Renoir painting is pathological. Lying about contacting Gold Star Families is damn grotesque.
- After expressing support for the bill on multiple occasions this week, President Trump took to Twitter to claim he was in opposition to the bipartisan Alexander-Murray healthcare effort.
I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care.
This was strange, given the fact that Senator Alexander claimed President Trump called him directly and asked him to create the deal in the first place and also requested that Senator Murray be part of it.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss his involvement in the firing of James Comey among other things. Sessions didn’t think that his recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation required him to remove himself from the decision-making process surrounding the firing of Comey. Most notably, Sessions mischaracterized his previous testimony, stating that he said he never met with Russians on behalf of the campaign, but that’s not what he said:
Sessions mischaracterized his own testimony Here he is in March, lying that he had no communications with Russians https://t.co/3A1qHY5OJp
- The Senate Intelligence Committee met in a closed session with Trump’s former Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski as part of their Trump-Russia investigation.
- Putin’s rival and Russia’s richest man before he was exiled, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, told NBC News:
“I am almost convinced that Putin’s people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way,” Khodorkovsky told MSNBC’s Ari Melber in his first U.S. television interview since Trump took office.
Khodorkovsky says he believes the likelihood that Putin “personally” tried to cooperate with the Trump campaign to affect the election is a “9 out of 10.”
Khodorkovsky went on to say that a banker that meant with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner may have been acting on orders from the Kremlin. In December of 2016, Kushner had a meeting at Trump tower with Sergey N. Gorkov who runs VneshEconomBank (VEB), a Russia owned bank that is currently under U.S. sanctions that were put in place in 2014. Gorkov is an FSB Academy graduate (essentially a trained spy) and known as a “Putin crony” in the intelligence community. Once VEB was sanctioned, Putin had to authorize $22 Billion in state funding to cover their debts.
- On the same day the Washington Post reported that President Trump promised to send $25,000 to the family of a fallen soldier but never followed through, President Trump sent the family a $25,000 check.
- A 17-year-old undocumented pregnant immigrant who was fleeing abuse from her parents was trying to have an abortion in the U.S. and the Trump administration has tried to block it and force her to carry the baby to term, then deport her. A federal judge, who claimed she was “astounded” the Trump administration would try and block this, ordered the U.S. government to allow her to have the procedure.
Thursday, October 19
The Content Of John Kelly’s Character
When John Kelly was appointed to Chief of Staff, the media rejoiced. “The Kelly Reset” they coined it. Kelly was set to bring balance to the force. But as we saw, Trump still went out and defended white supremacists after Charlottesville, tweeted provocations against Kim Jong-un, and acts a fool on a regular basis. And the willingness with which Kelly let Trump use his son’s death as a prop and the subsequent lie he told about Congresswoman Wilson revealed that Kelly doesn’t make this White House any less depraved. In fact, he enables it.
In a short press conference, John Kelly defended his President’s handling of the Niger condolence calls and revealed that he was the source of Trump stating that “he knew what he signed up for,” claiming he told Trump that the young soldier died honorably and that Mrs. Johnson took it the wrong way. He also outlined the details of what happens when a soldier is killed in action. Also, Kelly only called on reporters who claimed to know a gold star family.
It was in the logic of a military coup that John Kelly advanced his four arguments defending the President. https://t.co/XyOa0eW5vS
Kelly said he was “stunned” by Congresswoman Wilson’s characterization of the phone call. Then, Kelly went on to make a demonstrably false claim that left everyone else stunned. Kelly said that at an opening of an FBI building in South Florida, Wilson focused her speech on how she had served her constituents well and got the money to erect the building. But, Wilson stated that she wasn’t in Congress when the building had been funded, and a video supported her account of the events.
John Kelly has served his country honorably as a four-star Marine General, but that day he was at the podium speaking as Chief of Staff of the Trump White House. Much like his time at the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly proved that he will execute on President Trump’s vision. Not only will he not be the moral authority this White House desperately needs, but he is fully on board with the main tactic this administration uses to push their agenda forward: blatant lying.
- President Trump doubled down on his attacks on Congresswoman Wilson
The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!
- In two separate speeches, President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush both denounced Trump’s form of politics. Bush claimed that bigotry is being emboldened and that American culture appears to be more prone to conspiracy theories. And in the typical form we’ve come to expect from Obama, he made an effort to appeal to our better angels, while pointing to the divisiveness of Trumpism. Both Presidents did so without explicitly uttering the name “Trump.”
- A leaked White House memo revealed their eerie plans to target Muslim institutions as well as defund family planning initiatives…
The President, who has had 3 wives, wants to focus on abstinence only education and “fertility awareness” https://t.co/1jSRizli3D
- President Trump gave his response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a “10/10.”
1 month after #Maria in Puerto Rico: 1M lack clean drinking water 3M lack electricity .@realDonaldTrump…you call that a 10/10 response?
Friday, October 20
The Death Of Fiscal Conservatism
The party that preached fiscal conservatism has put yet another nail in the coffin of what they’re party supposedly stands for. In a 51–49 vote — Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) the only Republican no — on Thursday night, the Senate passed a $4 trillion budget that cuts Medicare by $473 billion and Medicaid by $1 trillion over a ten year period. It also contains protections that were inserted to cover tax cuts for the wealthy and add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over ten years. The GOP has used the deficit as a talking point for years, and here they are, willingly boosting it to get tax cuts for themselves and their donors.
From here, it goes to the House who will either opt to come to a compromise on a version between the two chambers or just pass the Senate’s version as is. Either way, Trump was delighted.
The Budget passed late last night, 51 to 49. We got ZERO Democrat votes with only Rand Paul (he will vote for Tax Cuts) voting against…..
This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform), which will be the biggest in the history of our country!
As we know, the tax plan that the GOP has in mind will disproportionately help the richest Americans. President Trump and Republican lawmakers’ tax plan would reduce the number of tax brackets down to three. Reducing the highest bracket to 35% and raising the lowest to 12%. It would also eliminate the estate tax.
As people argued this plan was drafted to benefit the rich and President Trump himself, later in the week The New York Times released an analysis that found not only would this bill overwhelmingly help the wealthiest Americans, but “President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes.”
- In response to reporters’ questions regarding John Kelly’s false statements about Congresswoman Wilson, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in the Friday White House Briefing that it was “highly inappropriate” to “get into a debate” with a four-star General. A few things:
General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #NeverHillary
Sanders: “Highly inappropriate” to question a four-star general. Trump in 2016: “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” https://t.co/j65NKYVjAi
- As the nation was still grappling with the stunning events in Niger, the FBI, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, launched a probe into what actually happened that October 4th day. Mattis also met with John McCain.
Hopefully this leads to some much needed answers.