A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 62nd Unpresidented Week As POTUS

62nd Weekend (March 24–25)

President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington after returning from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.—March 25, 2018 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington after returning from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.—March 25, 2018 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

America is in an eternal tug of war between decency and depravity. Facts and falsehoods. Hope and hysteria. Progress and stagnation.

Despite what some may say, there aren’t two sides to every story. After the dust settles and the spin subsides, all that will be left to judge the moments of today is history — the lens of which isn’t susceptible to the sway of “fake news” tweets.

If you are personally attacking teenage survivors of a school shooting — you are on the wrong side of history.

If you believe that unarmed black men gunned down by police deserve to die— you are on the wrong side of history.

If you are actively working to exacerbate climate change — you are on the wrong side of history.

If you are participating in a culture of corruption — you are on the wrong side of history.

If you quote the bible but push policies that harm the poor and sick — you are on the wrong side of history.

If you spread disinformation, fear, and try to place yourself or others above the rule of law— you are on the wrong side of history.

America isn’t perfect. Its history is plagued with this back and forth between the decent and the depraved. And unlike the president, history doesn’t lie.

I know, history is written by the victors.

Luckily, in the end, the decent always win.

Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 62nd week as POTUS:

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The Great Generation

Artwork By Rantt Media Production Designer Maddie Anderson

Artwork By Rantt Media Production Designer Maddie Anderson

The March For Our Lives was an event for the history books. In a protest of massive proportions, young people from around the U.S. gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue with one message: enough is enough.

The first speaker was Cameron Kasky, who knocked it out of the park. And the choice for the second speaker showed how brilliant and intersectional these kids are: It was a black kid from Chicago.

Every speaker was incredible.

The D.C march had hundreds of thousands in attendance, including the Rantt team. We had a blast registering voters.

Oh, how could I forget. D.C. was only the beginning. It swept the country and the world.

Despite the hate these kids are getting, this movement is far from over.

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Meanwhile…

  • President Trump tweeted about DACA and tried to shoot down reports that he was having a hard time attracting legal talent at the White House.

62nd Week (March 26–30)

Monday, March 26

Election Law

(Unsplashed/Hack Capital)

(Unsplashed/Hack Capital)

The past few weeks have not been good for Cambridge Analytica.

This week, we learned more details about how Cambridge Analytica may have violated election law.

And just like that, government watchdogs were all over it. ABC News reported:

Government watchdog group Common Cause Monday filed a pair of legal complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Department of Justice accusing Cambridge Analytica LTD, its parent company SCL Group Limited, CEO Alexander Nix, SCL co-founder Nigel Oakes, data scientist Alexander Tayler, and former employee-turned-whistleblower Christopher Wylie of violating federal election laws that prohibit foreigners from participating directly or indirectly in the decision-making process of U.S. political campaigns.

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Meanwhile…

  • A very concerning move was made by the Trump administration. One that could have a huge impact on the way immigrants respond to the census, which could, in turn, affect redistricting. The New York Times reported:

The 2020 census will ask respondents whether they are United States citizens, the Commerce Department announced Monday night, agreeing to a Trump administration request with highly charged political and social implications that many officials feared would result in a substantial undercount.

In a statement released Monday, the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had “determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block level data,” allowing the department to accurately measure the portion of the population eligible to vote.

But his decision immediately invited a legal challenge: Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, plans to sue the Trump administration over the decision, a spokeswoman for Mr. Becerra said late Monday.

By the following day, at least 12 states were planning on suing the Trump administration over this move.

  • Stormy Daniels sued Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen for defamation. This came after Daniels alleged she was threatened with violence to remain quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump.
  • Two lawyers, including the highly controversial pick Joe diGenova, will no longer be hired onto Trump’s legal team. This came as The Daily Beast reported high profile attorneys Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb declined offers to work for President Trump.
  • In retaliation for their poisoning of 21 people in the UK, the United States —in coordination with global allies — announced it would be expelling 60 Russian diplomats. We later learned the move was toothless.

  • Kim Jong-Un made a surprise visit to Beijing, China.

Tuesday, March 27

Injustice

Alton Sterling, who was suspected of the crime of selling CDs outside of a convenience store, was unjustly shot and killed in 2016. As you can see in the newly released body cam footage, his death was preceded by an officer saying, “Put your hands on the car or I’m going to shoot you in your fucking head.” Shoot him, he did.

On Tuesday, we learned once again that just because something is legal, does not make it just.

The most tragic thing about this is that it’s systemic and disproportionally affects unarmed black men. This lack of accountability came days after 22-year-old Stephon Clark had 20 shots fired at him — 8 fatally hitting with 7 of those in his back— by police. This happened while he was in his grandmother’s backyard.

We need a change. In police training. In accountability. In weeding out the officers with inherent racial biases. In the way the United States approaches law enforcement in general. Most police officers do a phenomenal job, but there is clearly a problem here. They must protect and serve…not hunt and slaughter.

In a society that claims to value life and due process, being black should not be probable cause for an impulsive execution.

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Meanwhile…

White House attorneys are examining whether two loans totaling more than $500 million to Jared Kushner’s family business may have violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations, according to a letter from a federal ethics agency made public Monday.

President Donald Trump has privately floated the idea of funding construction of a border wall with Mexico through the US military budget in conversations with advisers, two sources confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

Trump discussed the idea in a private meeting last week with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a source familiar with the conversations said, as he reviewed the omnibus spending bill, which does not include funding for construction of a border wall. It was not immediately clear how serious Trump was about pursuing this option, but the move would likely face steep hurdles with appropriators in Congress.

  • Trump locked down a bilateral trade agreement with South Korea.
  • With the NRA under fire for their foreign donations, including from Russia, they confirmed that they do take foreign donations.
  • Marck Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before Congress.

Wednesday, March 28

Pardon Me

In this July 21, 2016, photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, right, and Rick Gates, left, on stage during a walk through at the Republican National Convention, Thursday, July 21, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In this July 21, 2016, photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, right, and Rick Gates, left, on stage during a walk through at the Republican National Convention, Thursday, July 21, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The New York Times reported what has long been suspected and hinted at by the president himself.

A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump’s pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, who resigned last week, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.

The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency. Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate the prospect that Mr. Dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry, although legal experts are divided about whether such offers might constitute obstruction of justice.

Mr. Dowd’s conversation with Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert K. Kelner, occurred sometime after Mr. Dowd took over last summer as the president’s personal lawyer, at a time when a grand jury was hearing evidence against Mr. Flynn on a range of potential crimes. Mr. Flynn, who served as Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, agreed in late November to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation. He pleaded guilty in December to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the Russian ambassador and received favorable sentencing terms.

The pardon discussion with Mr. Manafort’s attorney, Reginald J. Brown, came before his client was indicted in October on charges of money laundering and other financial crimes. Mr. Manafort, the former chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, has pleaded not guilty and has told others he is not interested in a pardon because he believes he has done nothing wrong and the government overstepped its authority. Mr. Brown is no longer his lawyer.

This is a significant development because, as the article notes, this could constitute obstruction of justice on the part of John Dowd. Legal experts noted that if Dowd was ordered to this by Trump, it would not be protected by attorney-client privilege because lawyers cannot act to further a crime.

It’s clear by Manafort’s uncooperative behavior that he either expects a pardon or is more afraid of the Russian government than he is of U.S. law enforcement.

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Meanwhile…

  • In other news, we learned that Rick Gates knowingly spoke to a former member of Russian intelligence, Konstantin Kilimnik (a former Manafort associate). The New York Times reported:

The campaign official, Rick Gates, had frequent phone calls in September and October 2016 with a person the F.B.I. believes had active links to Russian spy services at the time, the document said. Mr. Gates also told an associate the person “was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the G.R.U.,” the Russian military intelligence agency.

The individual is identified only as “Person A,” and the document describes him as someone who worked for Mr. Gates and Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, as part of their earlier representation of Russia-aligned parties and politicians in Ukraine, including the former president of Ukraine. A person with knowledge of the matter identified Person A as Konstantin V. Kilimnik, who for years was Mr. Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine.

This comes on top of Manafort’s previously reported contacts with Kilimnik in 2016 where Manafort offered Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska “private briefings” about the Trump campaign. A reminder that Manafort was paid Deripaska millions to asset pro-Russia influence on U.S. politics from 2006–2009.

  • The Justice Department’s Inspector General was sent on his latest witch hunt. This time, to investigate whether or not there were any FISA abuses when obtaining the warrant to surveil Carter Page.
  • Reuters reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing Russian contacts at the Republican National Convention, what influences may have contributed to the softening of language pertaining to Russia in the GOP platform, and Sessions’ communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — including the April 2016 Mayflower Hotel meeting. Rantt’s Managing Editor Remy Anne reported last year:

On April 27, 2016, Donald Trump gave a speech to an invitation-only audience at the Mayflower Hotel full of foreign policy experts and insiders. At this event, Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, introduced the President (candidate at the time) to Kislyak, who was then seated in the front row. Sessions was also present at this event.

Kislyak left quickly after the address, but not before speaking to a reporter from POLITICO, in diplomatic tones nearly unheard of during the 2016 election cycle.

“[Trump] made some intriguing points, but we need to understand what is meant in the implementation. It needs to be started carefully.”

It has since been reported by NBC News that the FBI and Congress are investigating this April 27th event for a potential private meeting that occurred between Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, and Kislyak.

  • President Trump fired Veterans Affair Secretary David Shulkin via Twitter and nominated his doctor, Admiral Ronny Jackson.

The following day, Shulkin published an op-ed in The New York Times claiming that he was fired because he was trying to stop President Trump from privatizing the VA.

  • President Trump’s conflicts of interest appear to finally be coming back to bite him. CNN reported:

A federal judge said Wednesday that a lawsuit alleging gifts or payments from foreign and domestic governments made to President Donald Trump may be illegal can proceed.

But the ruling from Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland says the Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general who brought the case will have to focus it on the Trump Organization’s operations in Washington. That means the case going forward will challenge payments made by foreign officials for services at the Trump International Hotel, but will not include visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida or other Trump properties.

Take a look at Tai Ragan’s column on Trump’s conflicts of interest to learn more.

Conflicted – Rantt Media

  • Stormy Daniels’ lawyer filed a motion to depose President Trump and Michael Cohen, on which a federal judge placed a temporary block later this week.
  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson is moving to roll back Fair Housing practices.
  • The Huffington Post reported on a troubling leaked memo they obtained from the EPA:

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday evening sent employees a list of eight approved talking points on climate change from its Office of Public Affairs ― guidelines that promote a message of uncertainty about climate science and gloss over proposed cuts to key adaptation programs.

An internal email obtained by HuffPost ― forwarded to employees by Joel Scheraga, a career staffer who served under President Barack Obama ― directs communications directors and regional office public affairs directors to note that the EPA “promotes science that helps inform states, municipalities and tribes on how to plan for and respond to extreme events and environmental emergencies” and “works with state, local, and tribal government to improve infrastructure to protect against the consequences of climate change and natural disasters.”

Thursday, March 29

Indecency

This week, Laura Ingraham overstepped. After already spreading racist nonsense on her show like telling Lebron James to shut up and dribble and effectively dedicating her first episode to the Confederacy, Ingraham finally made a mistake that left her apologetic.

Throughout the day and following day, Ingraham lost advertiser after advertiser for her personal attacks on a survivor of a school shooting. She, of course, apologized and later took an “Easter break.”

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Meanwhile…

  • CNN reported that Mueller was pushing for Gates’ cooperation to get further insight into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied a request for a second special counsel to investigate the FBI.
  • An important development in the DACA fight:

Citing President Trump’s “racially charged language,” a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled on Thursday that a lawsuit seeking to preserve a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation could continue.

The order, by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, was the strongest sign so far of judicial support for the program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has for months been the subject of a heated debate in Congress.

  • Reports began to circulate that President Trump is thinking about operating without a Chief of Staff.
  • ABC News reported:

For much of his first year in Washington, President Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt occupied prime real estate in a townhouse near the U.S. Capitol that is co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist, property records from 2017 show.

Neither the EPA nor the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, would say how much Pruitt paid to live at the prime Capitol Hill address, though Hart said he believed it to be the market rate. The price tag on Pruitt’s rental arrangement is one key question when determining if it constitutes an improper gift, ethics experts told ABC News.

  • Michael Cohen’s attorney (yes, Trump’s attorney has an attorney) denied that Trump knew about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels…Which would be odd given the fact that Cohen was acting on behalf of Trump.
  • President Trump began what would be a series of attacks on Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.

  • The Trump administration announced their plans to require immigrants seeking entry into the United States to disclose five years of social media history.
  • Russia retaliated to the “expulsion” of 60 Russian diplomats with the expulsion of 60 American diplomats and the closing of the American consulate in St. Petersburg.
  • NBC News dropped a report adding yet another example of President Trump eerily tip-toeing around angering Putin.

President Donald Trump’s national security advisers spent months trying to convince him to sign off on a plan to supply new U.S. weapons to Ukraine to aid in the country’s fight against Russian-backed separatists, according to multiple senior administration officials.

Yet when the president finally authorized the major policy shift, he told his aides not to publicly tout his decision, officials said. Doing so, Trump argued, might agitate Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the officials.

“He doesn’t want us to bring it up,” one White House official said. “It is not something he wants to talk about.”

The White House declined to comment.

Friday, March 30

Dereliction of Duty

President Donald Trump addresses U.S. military troops and their families at the Sigonella Naval Air Station, in Sigonella, Italy — May 27, 2017 (AP/Luca Bruno)

President Donald Trump addresses U.S. military troops and their families at the Sigonella Naval Air Station, in Sigonella, Italy — May 27, 2017 (AP/Luca Bruno)

On Friday, there was the kind of report you don’t typically see. It was sourced by a U.S. special forces commander and half a dozen senior officials who shared his sentiment

Some U.S. commanders say what they perceive as a lack of guidance from the White House — which sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster packing in a 9-day span — is threatening their mission to destroy ISIS. Cracks are showing in America’s alliance with the Kurds of northern Syria, who question whether they can rely on the U.S. under President Donald Trump.

“We’re on the two-yard line. We could literally fall into the end zone. We’re that close to total victory, to wiping out the ISIS caliphate in Syria,” one U.S. special forces commander told NBC News. “We’re that close and now it’s coming apart.”

More than a half-dozen senior officials interviewed by NBC News shared the commander’s views.

This news reminded me of a few Rantt pieces I wrote in the past about how Trump has delegated his commander-in-chief duties resulting in an increase in civilian casualties.

Meanwhile…

  • The Guardian reported a development that further indicates Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s focus on Russian hacking of the DNC and Wikileaks’ dissemination of the emails.

A controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage has been detained by the FBI upon arrival in the US and issued a subpoena to testify before Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Ted Malloch, an American touted last year as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU, said he was interrogated by the FBI at Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday following a flight from London and questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign.

In a statement sent to the Guardian, Malloch, who described himself as a policy wonk and defender of Trump, said the FBI also asked him about his relationship with Roger Stone, the Republican strategist, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has resided for nearly six years.

  • There was yet another eerie development in the Scott Pruitt condo story.

The Environmental Protection Agency paid a Capitol Hill condo association $2,460 after Administrator Scott Pruitt’s security detail broke down the door, believing he was unconscious and unresponsive and needed rescue, ABC News has confirmed.

The payment, the amount of which was first reported by The Washington Post and verified by a source familiar with the incident, occurred after a bizarre incident last year that the EPA has for months refused to discuss.

The incident occurred in the late afternoon on March 29, 2017 at the Capitol Hill address Pruitt was renting, which was co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist. A Capitol Police officer called 911 at the behest of Pruitt’s security detail, which had tried unsuccessfully to reach him by phone, and by banging on the building’s front door, according to police recordings obtained by ABC News.

In August 2016, a private jet linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska traveled from Moscow to Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. The Gulfstream G550 (registration M-ALAY) landed shortly after midnight and, according to publicly available flight records, flew back to Moscow that same afternoon. Deripaska, 50, is the founder of Basic Element, a Russian industrial conglomerate with massive holdings in aluminum, energy, and construction. With an estimated net worth of $6 billion, he can afford to send a private jet across the globe whenever he wants.

Still, according to a source familiar with the matter, that August flight has caught the attention of congressional investigators, in part because of its timing.

  • We got more details about Stephon Clark’s unjustified death that I referred to earlier.

An obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government, documents and interviews show.

At the same time, two office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking.

The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) is little known outside political circles. But it has far-reaching influence as a gateway for the appointed officials who carry out the president’s policies and run federal agencies.

Over the weekend, President Trump continued his attacks on Amazon. Any arguments he makes on Amazon are tainted by the fact he has shown a disdain for Jeff Bezos who also owns The Washington Post.

Also, President Trump decided to give the American people a beautiful Easter gift and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by attacking lying about immigrants.

It’s clear Trump has no idea what DACA — the program he personally rescinded that benefits over 700,000 undocumented Americans — is.

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics