A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 56th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Depravity balanced by hope

Parkland Shooting Survivor Emma González during her speech calling for gun control — February 17, 2018 (Getty Images)

Parkland Shooting Survivor Emma González during her speech calling for gun control — February 17, 2018 (Getty Images)

This week was one for the history books.

130 White House officials without permanent security clearances.

17 innocent people fatally shot at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

13 Russian nationals indicted for interfering in American democracy.

1 President unfit for office.

Countless Americans fed up.

Trump’s consistent reluctance to condemn a hostile foreign power and his quickness to attack his own government, took center-stage once again.

After his own DOJ indicted Russians for their continued interference in our democratic process, rather than outline a plan for how America will respond, the President of the United States continued his attacks on American institutions.

The indictment’s focus on “Putin’s chef,” the Russian troll farm, indicates that there will certainly be more to come in relation to Russia’s hacking (Wikileaks, Cozy Bear, Fancy Bear, voter rolls, etc.). Special Counsel Robert Mueller brilliantly killed Trump’s “Russia Witch Hunt” narrative by indicting 13 witches.

But most notably, the simple fact that Mueller established the underlying crimes the Russians committed is key, because now if there was collusion on the part of the Trump campaign, it could be a crime. Collusion would then be participating in a Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.

When it comes to the devastating deaths of children in Parkland, the President once again tried to make it about himself. But the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not let Trump control the narrative.

What we saw this week was the next generation of leaders rise to greatness in the midst of tragedy. Emma González, David Hogg, and the rest of the Parkland shooting survivors projected a resounding message strength and hope to the world.

The old methods of inaction when it comes to gun violence will no longer be tolerated.

The days of the NRA’s influence are numbered.

The youth will right the wrongs of our elders.

…And the GOP should be terrified.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 56th week as POTUS:

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56th Weekend (February 10–11)

“Due Process”

Rob Porter, left, former White House Staff Secretary speaks to President Donald Trump after Trump made remarks about white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 — (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Rob Porter, left, former White House Staff Secretary speaks to President Donald Trump after Trump made remarks about white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 — (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Facing near-universal backlash over his defense of alleged domestic abuser Rob Porter, over the weekend, President Trump continued his depraved defense of abusers and also distorted a report about a Russian false flag operation.

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Meanwhile…

  • As the Winter Olympics kicked off in South Korea, Kim Jong-Un’s sister began garnering positive press in the U.S. Some had their concerns.

56th Week (February 11–16)

Monday, February 12

“Infrastructure Week”

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before speaking with members of the armed forces via video conference at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, on Thanksgiving in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before speaking with members of the armed forces via video conference at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, on Thanksgiving in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Every time the White House sets out to have a week about infrastructure, you can expect by the end of the week, it will have derailed entirely. The same applied this week.

Monday was a quiet day for the most part, but the silence was broken when the White House sent Congress its budget proposal. The New York Times reports:

President Trump sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget proposal on Monday outlining steep cuts to domestic programs, large increases in military spending and a ballooning federal deficit that illustrates how far Republicans have strayed from their longtime embrace of balanced budgets.

The budget would also add $7 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. Within it lies Trump’s infrastructure plan, which seeks $1.5 trillion in new spending.

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Meanwhile…

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a remark that many claimed was quite the dog whistle.

  • Last week’s resignation of Rachel Brand sparked many questions.

We knew that Brand left for a high paying position at Walmart, but we didn’t know exactly why. We learned that Rachel Brand had been frustrated with her role in the DOJ for quite some time and didn’t like the way it was being run, especially regarding the vacancies. But one of the main reasons when left the DOJ was because she feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation….

  • There was some concerning news about Aetna.

  • One of Rob Porter’s ex-wives, who bravely spoke about her abuse, wrote a powerful op-ed in Time Magazine.

  • Mick Mulvaney continued his weakening of the Consumer Financial Bureau.
  • The Washington Post reported on EPA head Scott Pruitt’s lavish spending on first-class flights and luxury hotels.
  • Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education officially stated that it will not take bathroom complaints from transgender students.

Tuesday, February 13

Russia Will Strike Again

Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

U.S. Intelligence agencies released a worldwide threat assessment that contained some pretty stark warnings pertaining to the integrity of our midterm elections.

The assessment stated:

“Foreign elections are critical inflection points that offer opportunities for Russia to advance its interests both overtly and covertly. The 2018 U.S. midterm elections are a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

In a statement about the assessment, the Intelligence Community stated:

“We assess that the Russian intelligence services will continue their efforts to disseminate false information via Russian state-controlled media and covert online personas about U.S. activities to encourage anti-U.S. political views.

Moscow seeks to create wedges that reduce trust and confidence in democratic processes, degrade democratization efforts, weaken U.S. partnerships with European allies, undermine Western sanctions, encourage anti-U.S. political views, and counter efforts to bring Ukraine and other former Soviet states into European institutions.”

That last paragraph is particularly startling, given the fact that the current President of the United States, in his attacks on U.S. institutions, does exactly that.

The current administration not only refuses to implement the veto-proof congressional sanctions on Russian oligarchs, they appear to have no intention to prepare for the incoming assaults on our democracy.

As the Intel Chiefs were presenting this assessment, CNN reported that President Trump is still not convinced that Russia meddled.

Later in the week, we learn a great deal more about the specific tactics that took place when it comes to the Russian troll farm and the spread of Russian propaganda.

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Meanwhile…

  • After Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah stated that the background investigation into Rob Porter was ongoing, FBI Director Christoper Wray contradicted that version of events, as well as the White House’s previously outlined timeline.

We also learned that despite Porter’s troubled past, he was still up for a promotion. John Kelly’s role in protecting Porter’s position in the White House made his future increasingly unlikely.

  • As President Trump sent tweets trying to pin the failure to pass DACA legislation on the Democrats, a second judge ruled against his decision to rescind it in the first place.

  • President Trump’s approval rating jumped to 44% in what appeared to be a bump from the passing of his tax legislation.
  • In Democrat world: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) pledged to not take any donations from corporate PACs and Democrats picked up a Republican seat in Florida.

  • Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen attempted to take the heat off President Trump by stating that he paid porn star Stormy Daniels the $130,000 out of his own pocket and was not reimbursed by the Trump Organization or campaign.
  • Bloomberg reported:

U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to one U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter.

More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll in the fighting at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured, but was unable to say how many were Russians.

  • After immense backlash, The New York Times fired a new editor that they had just hired on their Editorial Board.

Wednesday, February 14

Parkland

In Parkland, Florida 17 people, including 14 teenagers, were brutally shot by Nikolas Cruz, a deranged 19-year-old who once attended the school.

10 minutes before school was set to end, Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15, triggered the fire alarm, and as the children began to file out of their classrooms, he started gunning them down. The shooter was taken into custody after the attack.

The footage of the attack had me holding back tears.

As it did for others.

President Trump opted not to speak that day.

But he did speak on Twitter.

This is where we began to see the kids of Parkland speaking out directly to the President.

Over the next few days, we learned a great deal about the shooter, but we learned a great deal more about the heroes who shielded others from harm, and we learned of the brilliance and strength of the survivors of the shooting.

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Meanwhile…

More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel, according to internal White House documents obtained by NBC News.

Of those appointees working with interim clearances, 47 of them are in positions that report directly to President Donald Trump. About a quarter of all political appointees in the executive office are working with some form of interim security clearance.

The documents also show that 10 months into Trump’s administration, at least 85 political appointees in the White House, vice president’s office and National Security Council were working without permanent security clearances. About 50 appointees were operating with interim security clearances while serving in offices closely linked to the West Wing, such as the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House executive residence.

  • As a bipartisan group of Senators reached a deal on immigration, President Trump opposed it.
  • Before the shooting, Maggie Haberman reported that Kelly’s team believes the leaks about Kelly are coming from Trump himself, as the Porter scandal continued.

  • An ethics scandal plagued the VA chief.

  • We learned that Pruitt has a waiver from the EPA that lets him travel in the wasteful manner he travels in.

Thursday, February 15

The NRA Put On Blast

President Donald Trump stands with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, right, and Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action as he arrives for the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump stands with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, right, and Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action as he arrives for the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As we know, even in the most consequential moments, President Trump can’t bring himself to have a genuine moment of humble clarity. Trump woke up on Thursday and began to shift blame for the shooting before all the information had been gathered.

This was quickly deemed ridiculous by facts.

As we learned more about how he was reported, although the FBI did indeed have a massive failure here, we recognized some additional legislation regarding firearms and those who have had mental health concerns on their record could’ve prevented him from getting a gun. And what we had towards that end, the President repealed.

President Trump finally did speak but did not say the word gun in his entire speech.

The President and the NRA’s complicity in this was not lost on the survivors of the shooting. As the GOP, conservative talking heads, and tools of the NRA said “let’s give the families and students time to grieve and not talk about solutions,” the survivors said, “nope.”

News organizations did not fail to point out the GOP/NRA complicity in this either.

There were attempts to “both-sides” this, but those attempts were swatted down.

President Barack Obama spoke.

There were some early reports that the Anti-Defamation league set off when they were falsely tipped by a Nazi leader in Florida. It claimed that Nikolas Cruz was a white nationalist training in a paramilitary group. That was debunked quickly. What was confirmed was that he was a Trump supporter.

All that we know, is that we at Rantt are going to do whatever we can to highlight the issue and make sure that this cycle of slaughter will end.

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Meanwhile…

  • The bipartisan immigration bill failed after Trump threatened a veto.

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed Steve Bannon for several days.
  • We learned of what was to come in the coming week.

U.S. tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Jared Kushner’s family, according to a person familiar with the matter.

They have gathered information from people who lent money and assembled investors for some Kushner Cos. real estate projects in New York and New Jersey, the person said. Those projects involve deals dating back to 2010.

Friday, February 16

The Investigative Brilliance Of Robert Mueller

(Rantt News/Maddie Anderson)

(Rantt News/Maddie Anderson)

After over a year of reports, and over a year since the Intelligence Community concluded that the Russian government interfered in our democracy, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the U.S. Department of Justice, unveiled indictments for 13 Russian nationals and entities.

This specifically targeted the Russians involved in the Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency. Known in Moscow as “Putin’s chef,” for more reasons than just his catering business, Yevgeny Prigozhin was one of the main oligarchs in this indictment. We’ve reported on their sophisticated tactics of impersonating Americans and organizing rallies within the U.S.

Putin’s Professional Trolls Catfished And Paid Pro-Trump Activists In The US

Also, there wasn’t much discussion about the Russian spies who obtained visas in 2014 to gather intelligence by traveling the United States. It makes the Russian visas that Tillerson was openly granting for most of 2017 (before stopping them) more troubling. We need to watch this closely.

By brilliantly establishing the underlying crime on the part of the Russians, Robert Mueller frees himself up to make collusion a crime, because colluders would then be aiding in a conspiracy against the United States as the indictment notes. Not to mention, the omission of election law violations is notable.

Mueller’s investigative brilliance:

1. Determine the underlying Russian crimes.

2. Withhold Federal Election Campaign Act violation charges as to not reveal your next move and bolster your future negotiating leverage.

3. Then when you move on Americans, you’ve now locked in co-conspirators in a conspiracy against the United States and whatever election law violations they bring, etc.

Just like that, collusion is a crime

And we haven’t even gotten to the hacking part of this. Cozy Bear, Fancy Bear, Wikileaks…

A few other takeaways:

President Trump, as usual, attempted to spin the indictment as vindication.

We responded per usual.

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Meanwhile…

  • The FBI acknowledged their failure in preventing Nikolas Cruz from committing this horrible atrocity. The New York Times reported:

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed Friday, but it acknowledged that it had failed to investigate.

The tipster, who called an F.B.I. hotline on Jan. 5, told the bureau that Mr. Cruz had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the F.B.I. said.

The information should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami F.B.I. field office, the bureau said. But that never happened. On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz, 19, killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

The tip about Mr. Cruz appeared to be the second in four months, after another person told the bureau about online comments from Mr. Cruz that he wanted to become “a professional school shooter.”

But we also learned that Nikolas Cruz was quite literally gained his shooting skills from the NRA.

  • The FCC is being investigating as to whether it’s own chairman coordinated with Sinclair Broadcast Group to craft favorable policies. We all remember Sinclair right? The media company silently infecting homes with far-right disinformation.

Sinclair Broadcast Group: The Greatest Threat To Our Democracy Since Fox News

  • Mitt Romney officially announced he’s running for Orrin Hatch’s soon to be vacant seat in Utah.
  • Chief of Staff John Kelly will overhaul the security clearance investigation process.
  • Fox News Commentator Laura Ingraham gets quite the clapback from Eagles’ defensive end, and Super Bowl Chapion, Chris Long

Lebron, responded like a beast.

  • Also, can’t end this without mentioning the cultural phenomenon that is Black Panther. I may write a separate piece on this later so I’ll save my takes for then.

As expected, President Trump completely lost it over the weekend and went on his usual Russia paranoia-triggered tweet sprees we’ve grown used to. But not without fact-checks and pushback (Only posting a few here, but there are more).

Meanwhile…

  • Things weren’t looking too good for Paul Manafort, and by extension, Trumpworld.

The young activists are already organized.

And on a personal note from me: While having written this column week after week, the blatant depravity displayed by those in power is always balanced out by the resilience, decency, and hope that the American people consistently display. I believe that we will become a better nation at the end of this uncertainty.

No, I don’t believe. I know.

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics