A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 58th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Chaos

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla. — Friday, March 2, 2018 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla. — Friday, March 2, 2018 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The president is under investigation and in over his head.

Triggered by the Russia investigation closing in on him and overwhelmed by his chaotic administration, Donald Trump’s behavior validated the concerns Americans have been expressing since the day he announced his candidacy — A candidacy that makes his presidency look like a swamp of hypocrisy.

Candidate Trump said that Hillary Clinton didn’t have the stamina to be president. President ‪Trump can’t seem to hold it together. Trump’s private angry tirades are triggering public regressive policy in his efforts to start a trade war with America’s allies.

The Trump campaign ran on a message lambasting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. The Trump administration just had to significantly downgrade numerous White House officials’ security clearances because they had access to America’s top secrets without permanent security clearances. Among them was Trump’s son-in-law, and White House adviser, Jared Kushner.

Speaking of the Secretary of Nepotism (credit to Jon Lovett for that one), Jared Kushner is the personification of why an administration riddled with conflicts of interest is a threat to America’s national security interests. This week, it was revealed that foreign countries have discussed manipulating Kushner by playing to his business interests. Worth mentioning that candidate Trump repeatedly called Clinton corrupt.

Aside from this torrent of hypocrisy, we learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leaving no stone unturned. Mueller has been questioning witnesses about Trump’s pre-2016 Russian business dealings, probing Trump’s efforts to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, preparing charges for the Russians who hacked and leaked Democratic emails, looking into whether Trump knew about and/or coordinated the release of said hacked emails, and examining whether Kushner’s business interests have influenced White House policy. This all came as we learned the full extent to which President Trump has neglected to fight back against Russian interference.

When it comes to the gun violence epidemic, while the president held a meeting with members of Congress full of false promises, the private sector took gun control into their own hands. All the while, the kids from Parkland continued to speak out.

Teachers in West Virginia demanded higher wages and the Supreme Court gave over 700,000 undocumented Americans (that is what they are — they are Americans in every way except on paper) a much-needed sigh of relief.

Oh, and the president lost one of his closest confidants while Americans tried not to lose their minds.

What a week. We never truly know what will happen next but one thing is for sure: Robert Mueller’s investigation is eating away at Donald Trump.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 58th week as POTUS:

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58th Weekend (February 24–25)

Nunes Nonsense

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. walks out of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, to speak with reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. walks out of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, to speak with reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Over the weekend, the Democrat’s rebuttal to the dishonest Nunes memo — which tried to paint the FBI as an anti-Trump deep state operation waging an Illuminati coup — was released. It completely debunked every argument made in the Nunes Memo.

Trump had some words.

But of course, reality can’t be distorted by his tweets.

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Meanwhile…

  • After trying to smear the Parkland kids didn’t work, the far-right moved onto their next conspiracy theory which alleged CNN scripted the town hall — A theory the president quickly latched onto. It turns out, it was all based on falsified emails.

After CNN pushed back, they gave the real emails to the press, revealing that the student’s father had doctored the correspondence.

  • After a testy phone call where President Trump refused to back off his “demand” that Mexico pay for his border wall, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled his scheduled trip to the White House.
  • President Trump continued his efforts to fill his administration with his buddies.

  • Axios reported that President Trump often talks about how the U.S. should kill drug dealers:

In Singapore, the death penalty is mandatory for drug trafficking offenses. And President Trump loves it. He’s been telling friends for months that the country’s policy to execute drug traffickers is the reason its drug consumption rates are so low.

“He says that a lot,” said a source who’s spoken to Trump at length about the subject. “He says, ‘When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] ‘No. Death penalty’.”

He often jokes about killing drug dealers… He’ll say, ‘You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them.’ — A senior administration official to Axios

  • In a new CNN poll, Trump’s approval rating slid back to the lowest point of his presidency at 35%.

58th Week (February 26–March 2)

Monday, February 26

Dream On

Carlos Esteban, 31, of Woodbridge, Va., a nursing student and recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, rallies with others in support of DACA outside of the White House, in Washington — Sept. 5, 2017(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Carlos Esteban, 31, of Woodbridge, Va., a nursing student and recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, rallies with others in support of DACA outside of the White House, in Washington — Sept. 5, 2017(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Supreme Court delivered a major blow to Trump’s efforts to rescind DACA and a major victory for the over 700,000 Dreamers. Pete Williams at NBC News reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that requires the government to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program going.

Under a lower court order that remains in effect, the Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept renewal applications from the roughly 700,000 young people who are currently enrolled in the program, known as DACA. The administration had intended to shut the program down by March 5, but that deadline is now largely meaningless.

In a brief order, the court said simply, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”

Monday’s denial also gives Congress more time to come up with a legislative solution, though repeated bipartisan efforts have failed so far.

On MSNBC, Williams said that this ruling would give the Dreamers at least another year while the case is reviewed again by the lower courts.

The fight is not over. Congress must act.

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Meanwhile…

  • Republican lawmakers continued to refuse to show their spines.

  • Trump tried to use a photo of his visit with survivors of the Parkland shooting to solicit donations to his re-election campaign.
  • Trump attacked the armed guard who didn’t run into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while the shooting transpired. Trump, who is a draft dodger, said he would’ve run into the school without a weapon.
  • Ivanka Trump had quite the exchange with Peter Alexander of NBC News.

  • Every public school in West Virginia was closed as teachers went on strike, demanding higher wages.

Tuesday, February 27

Conflicted Kushner

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting — June 12, 2017 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner listens at left as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting — June 12, 2017 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Jared Kushner has always been a problematic figure in the White House. From his repeatedly amended SF-86 forms adding additional foreign contacts to his family’s brazen attempts to profit from Trump’s presidency, Kushner is a pinnacle of corruption. Many have warned about the fact he hasn’t separated himself from his businesses and how that may affect his tenure as a White House adviser (a similar critique has been made of President Trump).

On Tuesday, there was additional details that further built this case. Kushner’s interim security clearance, along with several other White House officials, was downgraded from top secret due to their checkered pasts and/or susceptibility to blackmail. Politico reported:

Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.

Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

How Kushner — who has been acting as a shadow Secretary of State, diplomat to China, and tasked with overseeing Middle East peace (ridiculous, I know) — will be able to carry out his duties is unknown.

On top of this news piled a damning report about how foreign countries have discussed manipulating Kushner via his business interests. The Washington Post reported:

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

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Meanwhile…

  • The first of many reports this week revealed another component of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. CNN reported:

Investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have recently been asking witnesses about Donald Trump’s business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential campaign as he considered a run for president, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Questions to some witnesses during wide-ranging interviews included the timing of Trump’s decision to seek the presidency, potentially compromising information the Russians may have had about him, and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through, two sources said.

The lines of inquiry indicate Mueller’s team is reaching beyond the campaign to explore how the Russians might have sought to influence Trump at a time when he was discussing deals in Moscow and contemplating a presidential run.

  • NSA and Cyber Chief Mike Rogers said that President Trump has not granted him the authority to go on the offensive against Russia’s hacking efforts…By the end of the day, we learned this:

  • Robert Mueller proposed dismissing some of former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates’ charges in light of his recent plea agreement. A likely sign that Gates is providing Mueller the goods.

  • Trump selected Brad Parscale, who ran his digital campaign under Jared Kushner in 2016 and has been a subject of Mueller’s Russia probe, to be his 2020 campaign manager.
  • The Hill reported:

A federal environmental office that works to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children is being merged as part of a proposed consolidation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) will no longer exist as a standalone entity following plans to combine three EPA offices, the agency confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

An EPA spokesperson said that under the planned overhaul, employees currently working at the NCER would be reassigned elsewhere within the department, the EPA said, and the management of NCER’s research grants would continue.

A senior career official in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has alleged that she was demoted and replaced with a Donald Trump appointee after refusing to break the law by funding an expensive redecoration of Ben Carson’s office.

  • Melania Trump’s friend and adviser parted ways with the first lady after controversy over the way Inauguration money was spent. The New York Times reported:

The first lady, Melania Trump, has parted ways with an adviser after news about the adviser’s firm reaping $26 million in payments to help plan President Trump’s inauguration.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who has been friends with Mrs. Trump for years, had been working on a contract basis as an unpaid senior adviser to the office of the first lady.

  • Congress began their debate over whether or not to restore net neutrality.
  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks stonewalled the House Intelligence Committee during a 9-hour testimony, refusing to answer questions about her time in the White House. But she did admit that at times, she’s had to tell “white lies” on behalf of Donald Trump…

Wednesday, February 28

Get Me Roger Stone

Roger Stone (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/MCT/Getty Images)

Roger Stone (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/MCT/Getty Images)

Yes, this is the day Hope Hicks resigned, but for the main piece of this day, I wanted to drill down on the report that indicated Robert Mueller is probing whether or not Trump was aware of the incoming Wikileaks. NBC News reported:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.

The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.

We know that George Papadopoulos was well aware that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton, it was why the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign began in the first place. We also know that Trump Jr. directly corresponded with Wikileaks and President Trump actively promoted them once the emails were released. But Roger Stone is who I want to touch on quickly.

Stone has admitted to speaking to Guccifer 2.0; the online persona believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials and behind the hacks on the DNC

In October, Roger Stone boasted about being in regular contact with Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, through “mutual friends.” This boast appeared to be validated by his eerie knowledge of upcoming Wikileaks concerning Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails. Several months before it occurred, Stone tweeted about an October surprise involving Podesta that would disrupt Clinton’s campaign.

But this week, Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic reveals that Stone actually had direct contacts with Wikileaks.

Mueller has his sights set.

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Meanwhile…

  • After announcing they would no longer be selling assault rifles, Dick’s Sporting Goods released this statement.

  • President Trump held a meeting with members of Congress where he appeared to show interest in gun control measures but later backpedaled.

  • President Trump took to Twitter and attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions once more.

In a show of solidarity, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dined with his colleagues at the DOJ.

We later learn the following detail about Mueller’s investigation, which makes one wonder whether Trump was reached out to for comment about this story and that is what triggered his morning tweet.

  • More news of Jared Kushner’s corrupt business dealings.

New York’s banking regulator has asked Deutsche Bank AG and a pair of local lenders to provide information about their relationships with Jared Kushner, his family and the Kushner Cos., according to people familiar with the matter.

The state’s Department of Financial Services sent letters to the German lender as well as Signature Bank and New York Community Bank last week, said one of the people, who described the letter. The request was broad, covering the banks’ relationships with Kushner and his business properties; documents and communications about certain loan applications; and descriptions of the banks’ processes for approving Kushner loans.

  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson came under fire for overspending. The New York Times reported:

Department of Housing and Urban Development officials spent $31,000 on a new dining room set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office in late 2017 — just as the White House circulated its plans to slash HUD’s programs for the homeless, elderly and poor, according to federal procurement records.

The White House was reportedly furious about this story.

  • There was a huge ICE raid in Northern California.
  • The New York Times reported:

North Korea has been shipping supplies to the Syrian government that could be used in the production of chemical weapons, United Nations experts contend.

The evidence of a North Korean connection comes as the United States and other countries have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons on civilians, including recent attacks on civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta using what appears to have been chlorine gas.

The supplies from North Korea include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, according to a report by United Nations investigators. North Korean missile technicians have also been spotted working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities inside Syria, according to the report, which was written by a panel of experts who looked at North Korea’s compliance with United Nations sanctions.

  • White House Communications Director resigned, setting off a firestorm within Donald Trump, piling on top of all of his other problems.

Unfortunately, my prediction was correct…

Thursday, March 1

Trade War

President Donald Trump pauses during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, with members of Congress — Feb. 28, 2018 photo, (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump pauses during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, with members of Congress — Feb. 28, 2018 photo, (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Trump announced that he would be levying new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

A move that is beyond regressive. Rantt Editor Greg Fish reported:

In an almost universally panned move, Donald Trump finally acted on one of his more ill-advised campaign promises by mandating tariffs on steel and aluminum. As a consequence, we have Canada livid at this development and the EU drafting retaliatory measures against the main exports of states which put the current Republican leadership in office. Meanwhile, in his typical style, The Donald proclaims that trade wars are easy to win and good for the economy because he seems to inhabit some bizarro world where no nation can survive not selling something to the United States. All in all, it’s an ugly mess that will do us absolutely no good, and even worse, this all started not as a result of a policy debate, but because Trump was angry and needed to lash out.

We learned the following day that this move occurred out of sheer frustration over his chaotic administration. This led him to take the fringe advice of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and adviser Peter Navarro over his economic adviser Gary Cohn.

According to two officials, Trump’s decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.

On Wednesday evening, the president became “unglued,” in the words of one official familiar with the president’s state of mind.

A trifecta of events had set him off in a way that two officials said they had not seen before: Hope Hicks’ testimony to lawmakers investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, conduct by his embattled attorney generaland the treatment of his son-in-law by his chief of staff.

Trump, the two officials said, was angry and gunning for a fight, and he chose a trade war, spurred on by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the White House director for trade — and against longstanding advice from his economic chair Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

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Meanwhile…

  • Keep in mind everything I just said in the previous day about Wikileaks and the Trump campaign. Now, check out this news.

  • Republican Georgia lawmakers punished Delta Airlines for standing up to the NRA. USA Today reported:

Georgia lawmakers approved a bill on Thursday that stripped out a tax break proposal highly coveted by Delta Air Lines — the most stinging punishment that America’s pro-gun forces have leveled so far on one of the many corporations recalibrating their positions on firearms after the Florida high school massacre.

The $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel that was sought by Delta, one of Georgia’s biggest employers, had been included in a broader tax-relief bill. But this week, a number of Georgia Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, sought to remove the perk as retribution for Delta’s decision to end a promotional discount for members of the National Rifle Association.

  • Another shake up was on the horizon. If John Bolton replaces McMaster, the chances of war with Iran significantly increases.

  • An escalation from President Vladimir Putin.

  • Some more news related to Trump, Russia, and the NRA.

  • After one meeting with the NRA, President Trump appeared to be changing his tune.

  • By the end of the day, we had quite a week of Mueller moves to summarize.

By the next day, that list would grow.

Friday, March 2

Conflicted Kushner = Criminal Kushner?

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 24, 2017, to meet behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 24, 2017, to meet behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

We’ve known that Kushner was a subject of the Russia investigation for his involvement in the June 2016 Trump Tower, Hillary Clinton “dirt,” meeting with Manafort, Trump Jr., and Russian operatives and his efforts to set up a back channel with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But today we learned that Kushner is under scrutiny for another reason related to his conflicts of interest:

Federal investigators are scrutinizing whether any of Jared Kushner’s business discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later shaped White House policies in ways designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with, according to witnesses and other people familiar with the investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate properties, focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, according to witnesses who have been interviewed as part of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 election.

As part of the scrutiny of Kushner’s discussions with Turks, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter. Separately, Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. in late January and early February considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country’s Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt their country, four people familiar with the matter said.

Meanwhile…

  • A large amount of documents from the Russian troll farm were leaked.
  • Either excellent timing or insider trading…

Over the weekend….

  • We learned that President Trump’s beef with LaVar Ball was based on lies.

  • Florida inaction.

  • Trump tried to defend his tariffs by ratcheting up the rhetoric against our own allies.

  • President Trump racheted up the authoritarian rhetoric.

  • And a Washington Post report detailed the full extent of President Donald Trump’s deterioting mindset.

Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility — with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.

These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much further President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: “We haven’t bottomed out.”

Trump is now a president in transition, at times angry and increasingly isolated. He fumes in private that just about every time he looks up at a television screen, the cable news headlines are trumpeting yet another scandal. He voices frustration that son-in-law Jared Kushner has few on-air defenders. He revives old grudges. And he confides to friends that he is uncertain about whom to trust.

Not very comforting words. These are quite the times we’re living in but with the surge in activism and political engagement currently taking place within the American psyche, I believe we’ll fix this.

We have to.

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics