A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 59th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

The man who knew too little

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township, Pa. — Saturday, March 10, 2018 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township, Pa. — Saturday, March 10, 2018 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

What happens when you elect an indecent, fact-averse, corruption-prone, Fox News dependent man with the intellectual curiosity of a boulder to the office of the presidency? You get a week of stories like these:

Porn star Stormy Daniels sues the President of the United States who paid her hush money to stay quiet about an affair they had during a time where his wife just gave birth to their first son together.

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns after the president implements a regressive trade policy in spite of all advice and evidence that proves the move will punish our allies and our own economy.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that Blackwater Founder Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, tried to establish a backchannel line of communication between the Trump transition and the Kremlin at the Seychelles in January 2017.

The president holds a campaign rally in Pennsylvania and attacks American media outlets, calls American journalist Chuck Todd a “sleeping son of a bitch,” bashes U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” and once again says African-American Congresswoman Maxine Waters has a “low IQ” at a campaign rally. All of these attacks on Americans are received with cheers and rounds of applause, at a rally in which the president urges his supporters not to boo murderous North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un…

At this point in his presidency, the right question for the middle to lower class American who still support Donald Trump isn’t “How can you still believe his lies?” or “How can you not recognize that his policies are meant to help himself and the rich, not you?” or even “Have you noticed Trump can’t say anything negative about Vladimir Putin? Why did the man you support try and set up a backchannel line of communication between the Kremlin and his transition team? Do you even care?”

The right question to ask is “Have you no sense of decency?”

Compounded by ethno-nationalism, bigotry, anti-intellectualism, and a disregard for vulnerable Americans, Trumpism at its core is an inherently indecent ideology. To subscribe to it, one must lack empathy for their fellow human. There are actions and policies that Trump takes part in that can be deemed objectively immoral and unAmerican, and yet, his base (which still contains self-proclaimed evangelical “family values” Christians and patriots) rise and stand firmly behind him.

Luckily, the decent have risen to meet them. Texas saw their primary voting turnout double from 2014, and all over the United States, we’ve seen a surge in activism that is now yielding meaningful change. Just this week, we saw teachers in West Virginia demand, and receive, a pay raise and the activism by the survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida rewarded with new statewide gun legislation.

The American people are watching every self-serving move Donald Trump makes that weakens our country. And they won’t forget come November 2018 and 2020.

If GOP complicity doesn’t allow Robert Mueller’s investigation to deliver justice, you can bet the American people’s votes will.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 59th week as POTUS:

59th Weekend (March 3–4)

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)

After a chaotic week filled with news related to the Russia investigation, Jared Kushner’s conflicts of interest, White House departures, and regressive trade policy triggered by Trump’s bad mood, the president took off to Florida.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post detailed the full extent of President Donald Trump’s deteriorating 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.

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Meanwhile…

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

  • As of this weekend, there was no action on guns from the Florida legislature.

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

  • President Trump made an authoritarian joke. If this joke was made by a president who hasn’t called to jail his political opponents, called the press the “enemy of the American people,” tried to obstruct an investigation into his conduct, and place himself above the law, then maybe this joke wouldn’t be as problematic.

  • Perhaps the most important news over the weekend was about the Trump administrations continued inaction in response to Vladimir Putin’s interference in American democracy.

59th Week (March 5–9)

Monday, March 5

The Nunberg Trials

Former Trump Campaign Aide Sam Nunberg on MSNBC — March 5, 2018

Former Trump Campaign Aide Sam Nunberg on MSNBC — March 5, 2018

Monday started out quietly enough. No major breaking stories. And then, came this report from The Washington Post:

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg publicly defied the Justice Department special counsel on Monday, announcing in an extraordinary series of media interviews that he had been subpoenaed to appear in front of a federal grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election but that he will refuse to go.

“Let him arrest me,” Nunberg told The Washington Post in his first stop on a media blitz, saying he does not plan to comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to hand over emails and other documents related to President Trump and nine current and former Trump advisers.

Among the communications that were being requested were Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and Roger Stone. Nunberg’s deadline for turning over the documents was Monday evening and his appearance before the Grand Jury was set for Friday…

After this, development, Sam Nunberg unraveled and captured the news cycle for the entire day with multiple unfettered media appearances.

Nunberg then returned to MSNBC for a truly remarkable interview with Ari Melber (who he previously told he thinks Trump knows all about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting) and Maya Wiley where it ran like a legal intervention, with the panelists giving him advice.

Nunberg continued his press appearances, and by the end of the night it took a dark turn…

One refrain that Nunberg repeated throughout the day was that he didn’t want to give Mueller communications with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, especially Roger Stone. Nunberg also said that Mueller is trying to build a perjury case against Roger Stone. My main take:

I also had another, equally important take on the day’s events.

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Meanwhile…

  • An incredibly insightful profile on the Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele was published in the New Yorker with quite the revelation:

  • Trump sent out tweets criticizing NAFTA and trying to justify his tariffs. He also sent out a dubious tweet about Obama.

  • The New York Times reported on a Belarusian escort Anastasia Vashukevich, who has been gaining some media attention lately for her claims that she has footage of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska:

A Belarusian escort with close ties to a powerful Russian oligarch said from behind bars in Bangkok on Monday that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian meddling in United States elections.

Ms. Vashukevich, who described herself as close to the Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg V. Deripaska, said that audio recordings she made in August 2016 included discussions he had about the United States presidential election with people she declined to identify.

  • We got the first of many stories related to porn star Stormy Daniels this week. The Wall Street Journal reported:

The bank used by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer to wire $130,000 to a former adult-film actress flagged the transaction as suspicious and reported it to the Treasury Department, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Tuesday, March 6

Cohn’s Red Line

Former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As President Trump was set to impose his tariffs on steel and alluminum, Gary Cohn resigned.

Cohn adamantly disagreed with this move and was set to hold a meeting later this week with industry leaders who would be negatively affected by this development, but Trump canceled that meeting.

Cohn lost this battle over tariffs to Trump’s more protectionist advisers,Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and adviser Peter Navarro (who we later find out Kushner found by googling the word China…I’m not kidding).

In the end, tariffs was where Cohn drew the line.

The market responded.

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Meanwhile…

  • The Texas primaries occurred and there was a huge surge in Democratic turnout. We’ve featured over a dozen Texas candidates in Rantt Editor Matthew Reyna’s Blue Texas Project. Check out this thread to see the great candidates.

  • The Daily Beast reported that Trump’s personal lawyer, who is a subject of the Russia investigation and is wrapped up in the Stormy Daniels debacle, was leaked information about the Russia probe from House Intel.
  • An investigation into Kellyanne Conway’s endorsement of alleged pedophile Roy More in the Alabama Senate race found that she violated the Hatch Act:

An independent government investigative agency said on Tuesday that senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway twice violated a federal law prohibiting government employees from engaging in political activities.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is in not affiliated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, announced Tuesday that Conway violated the Hatch Act in two television interviews.

“In the first interview, Conway advocated against one Senate candidate and gave an implied endorsement of another candidate,” the OSC said in a statement following its investigation. “In the second interview, she advocated for the defeat of one Senate candidate and the election of another candidate.”

  • The New York Times reported on North Korea’s alleged willingness to denuclearize.
  • The Trump administration sued California over their so-called “sanctuary” immigration laws.
  • Maya Wiley’s legal advice on MSNBC got through to Sam Nunberg.

  • There was a John Bolton sighting at the White House. Bolton is on the short list to replace H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser. This would be a disastrous move given McMaster’s eagerness for war.

Our team has some ideas for how to influence Trump’s decision-making on this…

  • Roger Stone made an appearance on MSNBC.

I have to plug this response I got to that tweet. How can one survive this presidency without a little comedy, amirite?

Wednesday, March 7

A Russian Backchannel And A Presidential Porn Star Lawsuit

Created By Rantt Media Production Designer Maddie Anderson

Created By Rantt Media Production Designer Maddie Anderson

Before I get into today’s news, I have to touch on a report that dropped the previous day. The New York Times reported:

An adviser to the United Arab Emirates with ties to current and former aides to President Trump is cooperating with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and gave testimony last week to a grand jury, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Mueller appears to be examining the influence of foreign money on Mr. Trump’s political activities and has asked witnesses about the possibility that the adviser, George Nader, funneled money from the Emirates to the president’s political efforts. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for Americans to knowingly accept foreign money for political races.

Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the Emirates, also attended a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that Mr. Mueller’s investigators have examined. The meeting, convened by the crown prince, brought together a Russian investor close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump’s team during the presidential transition, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

Erik Prince is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ brother. By today, it was clear Nader provided information that confirmed reporting from 2017: The Seychelles meeting was an attempt to lock down a backchannel line of communication between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team. And now, Mueller has the evidence to prove it. Given the fact Erik Prince misrepresented this meeting to investigators, he may be susceptible to perjury charges.

This was not the only attempt at a backchannel line of communication on the part of Donald Trump’s transition. Michael Flynn, who has since reached a cooperating plea agreement with Robert Mueller, attended a secret meeting in Trump Tower on December 2016 as a member of the Trump transition team with Jared Kushner and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kushner asked to set up a back-channel line of communication between the Trump transition and Moscow using Russian hardware so that it could circumvent U.S. intelligence agencies’ surveillance…not sketchy at all.

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Meanwhile…

  • In this week’s episode of obstructive Trump behavior, The New York Times reported Trump asked former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about his interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and tried to get White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie about Trump’s attempt to fire Mueller:

The special counsel in the Russia investigation has learned of two conversations in recent months in which President Trump asked key witnesses about matters they discussed with investigators, according to three people familiar with the encounters.

In one episode, the president told an aide that the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, should issue a statement denying a New York Times article in January. The article said Mr. McGahn told investigators that the president once asked him to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. McGahn never released a statement and later had to remind the president that he had indeed asked Mr. McGahn to see that Mr. Mueller was dismissed, the people said.

In the other episode, Mr. Trump asked his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, how his interview had gone with the special counsel’s investigators and whether they had been “nice,” according to two people familiar with the discussion.

  • Porn star Stormy Daniels sued the President of the United States, and Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen obtained a restraining order. NBC News reported:

Adult film star Stormy Daniels sued President Donald Trump on Tuesday, alleging that he never signed a nondisclosure agreement that his lawyer had arranged with her.

The civil suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by NBC News, alleges that her agreement not to disclose her “intimate” relationship with Trump is invalid because while both Daniels and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen signed it, Trump never did.

Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, signed both the agreement and a side letter agreement using her professional name on Oct. 28, 2016, just days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen signed the document the same day. Both agreements are appended to the lawsuit as Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2.

  • Former Director of the CIA John Brennan gave Trump the clapback of the century.

  • Trump once again cited the unemployment rate of a minority group as if it disproves his racist worldview.

  • Former Trump communications director Hope Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee that her email accounts were hacked.
  • After last week saw Jared Kushner have his security clearance downgraded, this week ABC News reported:

Several White House staffers have been terminated or reassigned for issues related to their security clearances — with at least one individual employed in the Office of the First Lady relieved of duty, sources with direct knowledge tell ABC News.

There is a list of several other individuals with security clearance issues that are under consideration for possible termination or reassignment in the coming days, sources also tell ABC News. These individuals are likely lower level and could include people who work in the complex but not necessarily in the small confines of the West Wing.

The full break down on the list of possible individuals that action could be taken against was not readily available on Wednesday.

  • Speaking of Jared Kushner having access he shouldn’t have, he met with the President of Mexico.
  • A federal judge expressed skepticism over the constitutionality of President Trump blocking people on Twitter.
  • Sinclair broadcasting continued their efforts to be an unabashed propaganda arm for the Trump administration, infiltrating local news stations without the viewer even realizing it.

  • Florida lawmakers passed a gun legislation bill and sent it to Governor’s desk, but more on that later…

Thursday, March 8

Offered And Accepted

Created By Rantt Media Production Designer Maddie Anderson

Created By Rantt Media Production Designer Maddie Anderson

After months of back and forth, much of which was Twitter diplomacy on President Trump’s part, North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un made an offer to Trump that Trump immediately accepted without consulting any experts.

To put this in context:

If this news was occurring under an administration with a fully staffed State Department, a Secretary of State that wasn’t a lame duck, an Ambassador to South Korea, and a president that wasn’t unhinged and ill-informed, then one could try and argue that this acceptance of a legitimizing meeting with a murderous dictator without preconditions was part of some broader strategy. But we have nothing to worry about right? Because, you know, the art of the deal.

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Meanwhile…

  • Today was International Women’s Day (I would’ve made this the main feature for today if it weren’t for the North Korea news). The world celebrated the invaluable contributions that women have given to our world and their overall greatness. We did the same.

  • Trump signed the steel and aluminum tariffs but exempted Canada and Mexico, made archaic remarks about the economy, and also called Gary Cohn the anti-semitic term “globalist” to his face.

  • Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee.
  • The Associated Press reported:

…records reviewed by The Associated Press show Trump’s top lawyer, White House counsel Don McGahn, has issued at least 24 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies.

  • The Daily Caller decided to one-up Russia Today in the Russia propaganda game.

Friday, March 9

Stormy

President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

NBC News dropped two reports that would take the Stormy Daniels scandal to potentially illegal proportions. First was that Cohen arranged the payment to Stormy through his official Trump business email account:

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

And Clifford’s attorney at the time addressed correspondence to Cohen in his capacity at the Trump Organization and as “Special Counsel to Donald J. Trump,” the source said.

Second was that the transaction may have violated election law:

The case of the president, the payment and the porn star has raised questions that merit a federal criminal inquiry, some experts believe.

“There is enough here that warrants investigation,” said Richard Hasen, an election law expert and blogger and professor of law and political science at UC Irvine.

The issue is whether there is evidence in emails, or from witnesses, that the $130,000 payment to Daniels just before the 2016 election was made to silence Stormy Daniels because her story could hurt Trump’s presidential candidacy.

If Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid his own money “and he intended it to help the campaign then it’s an excessive contribution and it’s illegal,” Hasen said. Same goes for President Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.

If Trump paid out of his own funds, the amount is not an issue because candidates can contribute unlimited money to their campaign. But they have to disclose it, Hasen said, so there could be a disclosure violation.

“This could be construed as a knowing and willful violation of federal election law, in which case it would be a federal crime,” said Brett Kappel, a federal election law expert with Akerman LLP.

All this was transpiring as Trump added additional legal counsel to take this on.

Meanwhile…

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott finally answered the calls of the brave Parkland activists with some gun control legislation.

But not without pushback from the NRA.

This is classic NRA behavior.

  • EPA head Scott Pruitt wanted to stage a public debate challenged the science of climate change but Chief of Staff John Kelly shut the idea down. An idea that Trump of course expressed interest in.
  • More lavish spending on the part of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s Interior department spent $139,000 on a set of double doors. Zinke claims to have no knowledge of the purchase.
  • President Trump’s lawyer’s tried to set a precondition of a hard end date for the investigation before interviewing with Robert Mueller…

Over the weekend, President Trump brought out his trademark indecency at a rally in Pennsylvania ahead of Tuesday’s special election.

He also talked about how drug dealers should get the death penalty.

Meanwhile…

  • As expected, Trump backed off his positions on gun control after his meeting with the NRA.

  • Speaking of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, she had quite the interview on 60 minutes…

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics