A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 65th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
This week, many easily answerable questions were raised.
Would an innocent man be worried that their personal lawyer might flip on him and cooperate with a federal criminal investigation?
Is President Trump’s word more trustworthy than former FBI Director James Comey?
Is Mitch McConnell right to be unconcerned about the possibility of President Trump trying to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
Is it appropriate for Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity to advise President Trump multiple times a week and effectively serve as Trump’s minister of propaganda while Fox & Friends serves as Trump’s early morning unpresidential daily briefing?
Should President Trump’s lying, indecency, personal attacks on journalists, and his overall erosion of democratic norms simply be brushed off as “Trump being Trump?”
Will the Republican Party be able to hold on to power if this surge in youth activism translates into a historic surge in voter turnout?
The answer to all of these questions is no.
Here’s a complete breakdown of Donald Trump’s 65th week as POTUS.
A quick note: We know the news gets hectic. The Trump-era has brought with it dizzying news cycles that get overwhelming. So, Rantt has started delivering Unpresidented-style breakdowns daily! You no longer have to wait until the end of the week to get context-rich analysis that puts all the latest news into perspective.
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65th Weekend (April 14–15)
President Trump headed into this weekend fresh off of one of the wildest weeks in the Trump presidency — and the Trump-era bar of wildness is a high bar to meet.
It was the week President Trump’s personal lawyer/“fixer” Michael Cohen (who’s under criminal investigation) had his offices, home, and hotel raided by the FBI. It was the week Speaker Paul Ryan announced his upcoming retirement. It was the week Americans sat on the edge of their Twitter timelines, wondering when President Trump was going to make yet another attempt to obstruct the Russia investigation and fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
It was also the week the US, UK, and France struck Syria.
The strike came late on Friday, which was already quite the busy news day.
So far today Cohen -Under criminal investigation -Paid hush money for Elliott Broidy -Prague trip evidence -Tapes with Cohen and Daniels/McDougal's ex-lawyer were seized Trump -Called Comey a leaker & liar -Pardoned Scooter Libby for leaking & lying -Weighed firing Rosenstein
Then President Trump announced a strike on Syria, and the Pentagon later confirmed it was on three targets, harming Assad’s chemical weapons capability.
Add "Trump, in coordination with the U.K. and France, launched air strikes on Syria and said the U.S. is prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of chemical weapons" to this list https://t.co/9DVZz6a4gx
gt;> @Maddow went there right after Trump's address: "The perception that the president may have ordered these strikes in part because of scandal will affect the impact and the effectiveness of these military strikes. Unavoidably. Even if the tail is NOT wagging the dog.
The next morning, Trump proclaimed “Mission Accomplished!”…
A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!
He clearly hasn’t learned a thing from history.
The Syrian conflict is much more than a Civil War. It's become a complex proxy war with a web of countries pushing their own interests. @realDonaldTrump can scream "Mission Accomplished" all he wants, but this conflict is far from over. Via @TheAtlantic https://t.co/GjnuM67L6X
President Trump also clearly missed the memo from his evangelical base that Sunday is a day for prayer, not unhinged tweetstorms.
Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!
@realDonaldTrump Trump logic: James Comey thought Hillary Clinton would win the election, so 11 days out he sent a damaging letter to Congress about the private email server investigation that tanked her poll numbers because he wanted a job in the…Clinton administration? https://t.co/KTVn0gBOgq
The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn't they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 & more?
@realDonaldTrump Yet again, Trump sends a lie-filled tweet calling for a political opponent to be jailed. So again, we will point out that US presidents don't do that. Authoritarians do. Also Trump (again) accuses Comey of committing crimes he pardoned Scooter Libby for. https://t.co/XxapXrAAQf
This is the President of the United States' Twitter feed on a #SundayMorning before 10 am. Disclaimer: Rantt is not responsible for the lies, logical fallacies, random capital letters, and authoritarian rhetoric you are about to read.
- Two black men were arrested for waiting for their friend and business partner at a Starbucks…
Swipe through this moment. Then swipe through it again. This is what it's like to be a black man in America. Perceived as a threat. Encumbered by stereotypes. More likely to be arrested at a @Starbucks for simply waiting for your friends… https://t.co/ik5yL1teAf
Later in the week, we found out that the police were called just two minutes after they arrived…just two minutes…
Can't knock on a neighbor's door without fear of getting shot at Can't wait for friends at Starbucks without fear of getting arrested Can't walk through your neighborhood at night wearing a hoodie without fear of getting killed Guilty until proven innocent… Black in America
65th Week (April 16–20)
Monday, April 16
Et Tu, Hannity?
On Monday, Michael Cohen was in court trying to block federal investigators from reviewing materials that the FBI seized when they raided Cohen’s offices, home, and hotel.
Judge Kimba Wood denied that attempt. That wasn’t all that Judge Wood denied. As Cohen’s attorney tried to prevent a mystery third client’s name from being disclosed, Judge Wood ruled that the client’s name must be publicly disclosed. The client’s name was revealed. It was Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity.
Given the fact Cohen’s other publicly disclosed clients were Donald Trump and Elliott Broidy, who both had hush money paid on their behalf, speculation ran rampant.
For his part, Sean Hannity claimed “I’ve known Michael a long, long time. Let me be very clear to the media. Michael never represented me in any matter.” But Hannity later said that he may have handed Cohen a $10 bill and said: “I want attorney-client privilege on this.”
America’s collective reaction:
We’ll see how this plays out, but what we can say now is that Hannity’s defense of Cohen and coverage of the FBI raids are tainted by this development.
This is a great moment-to-moment Twitter thread of what happened during Cohen’s court appearance.
Good morning from New York. Expected in Manhattan Federal Court today: * @MichaelCohen212 * @StormyDaniels, with her attorney @MichaelAvenatti * @realDonaldTrump's legal team * @SDNYNews prosecutors Preview + live-tweet to come. What happened Friday: https://t.co/9T2CSrs0Aa
- Former FBI Director James Comey’s Sunday night interview with ABC continued to spark conversation. Among other things, Comey called Trump “morally unfit to be president” and said its possible that President Trump is compromised by Russia. Trump attacked Comey once again on Twitter…
Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!
Objectively speaking, James Comey is a far more credible person than Donald Trump.
@charliekirk11 Trump has made over 2,400 false or misleading statements since he became president-per @washingtonpost That's more than if he told a lie a day for 6 & a half years Trump still maintains over 80% support from Republican voters… (https://t.co/qABt7K4J9t) https://t.co/lbbl6tmv4a
Comey isn’t perfect, but he also isn’t a liar. On the other hand, whether you agree with Comey’s judgment is a debate worth having. Many see the letter he chose to send 11 days before the election as a disastrous decision that cost Hilary Clinton the election (there is adequate data to bolster that argument.) But the explanation of the reasoning he had behind it, no matter how flawed, has remained consistent.
As well as his recollection of the events surrounding his memos (the contemporaneous notes Comey wrote about interactions with President Trump that Comey felt were inappropriate) The attacks on Comey’s honesty will likely only hit hard with Trump’s base.
President Trump on Monday put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as “international economic raiding.”
But at the same time, the US and UK released a joint statement accusing Russia of “mounting a ‘malicious’ internet offensive that appeared to be aimed at espionage, stealing intellectual property and laying the foundation for an attack on infrastructure.”
Without mentioning Mueller, Trump lawyers urge high court to bolster his power to fire executive officials
Trump’s Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in the SEC case to urge the high court to clarify the president’s constitutional power to fire all “officers of the United States” who “exercise significant authority” under the law.
- More ethics issues arose for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. NBC News reported:
A $43,000 soundproof telephone booth that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt put in his office has caused federal watchdogs to speak up loudly.
On Monday, the General Accountability Office sent an eight-page letter to Senate lawmakers reporting that the booth violated federal spending law that caps the amount a presidential appointee can spend on upgrading their office at $5,000 without notifying the appropriations committees in the Senate and House beforehand.
- CNN reported on upcoming changes to AUMF:
A bipartisan group of senators on the Foreign Relations Committee late Monday unveiled a major rewrite of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which would give President Donald Trump robust new abilities to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups while reserving the ability for Congress to limit the commander in chief’s power to carry out the war on terror.
- The Verge reported:
A broadband advisor selected by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to run a federal advisory committee was arrested last week on claims she tricked investors into pouring money into a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Here’s the list of Pulitzer prize winners.
Tuesday, April 17
RIP Barbara Bush
Today, we lost Barbara Bush. The Washington Post reported:
Barbara Bush, who was the wife of one president and the mother of another and whose embrace of her image as America’s warmhearted grandmother belied her influence and mettle, died April 17. She was 92.
The office of her husband, former president George H.W. Bush, issued a statement Tuesday evening announcing her death but did not disclose the cause. Mrs. Bush was reportedly battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. Her family announced two days earlier that she had “decided not to seek additional medical treatment” after recent hospitalizations amid her “failing health.”
As the matriarch of one of America’s political dynasties, Mrs. Bush spent a half century in the public eye. She was portrayed as the consummate wife and homemaker as her husband rose from Texas oilman to commander in chief. They had six children, the eldest of whom, George W. Bush, became president. Their eldest daughter, Robin, died at age 3 of leukemia, a tragedy that had a profound impact on the family.
- In a surprising move to many, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with liberal justices and struck a blow to an immigration law. A defeat for the Trump Administration. ABC News reported:
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that part of a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes is too vague to be enforced.
The court’s 5–4 decision — in an unusual alignment in which new Justice Neil Gorsuchjoined the four liberal justices — concerns a catchall provision of immigration law that defines what makes a crime violent. Conviction for a crime of violence makes deportation “a virtual certainty” for an immigrant, no matter how long he has lived in the United States, Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion for the court.
The decision is a loss for President Donald Trump’s administration, which has emphasized stricter enforcement of immigration law. In this case, President Barack Obama’s administration took the same position in the Supreme Court in defense of the challenged provision. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that the court’s decision “means that Congress must close loopholes that block the removal of dangerous criminal aliens, including aggravated felons.” He ended by saying “Keep America Safe!”
- The Washington Post reported that Sean Hannity has essentially become President Trump’s shadow Chief of Staff.
The phone calls between President Trump and Sean Hannity come early in the morning or late at night, after the Fox News host goes off the air. They discuss ideas for Hannity’s show, Trump’s frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet, according to people familiar with the conversations. When he’s off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers.
The revelation this week that the two men share an attorney is just the latest sign of how Hannity is intertwined with Trump’s world — an increasingly powerful confidant who offers the media-driven president a sympathetic ear and shared grievances. The conservative commentator is so close to Trump that some White House aides have dubbed him the unofficial chief of staff.
The president sees him as an incredibly smart and articulate spokesman for the agenda." https://t.co/NZMDf1vajl
Minister of Propaganda https://t.co/ZIN1Pa1uBC
We’re in great hands.
- In a disappointing but not unsurprising move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would not take up a bill that would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired. Despite all of President Trump’s words and actions pointing to the contrary, McConnell claimed that he doesn’t think Trump will try and fire Mueller (note: he’d have to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein first.)
Here is Mitch McConnell saying he will not permit a Senate floor vote on the bipartisan bill now moving through Senate Judiciary Committee that would heighten protections against Trump forcing an arbitrary firing of Mueller. https://t.co/SVOYPeVdxk
I don't think he should fire Mueller and I don't think he's gong to."-@SenateMajLdr I understand. If you ignore all of Trump's past obstructive actions (literal attempts to fire Mueller) and current obstructive rhetoric, then yes, I don't think he's going to fire Mueller either https://t.co/VpoCHMgTPG
When the dark chapter of the Trump presidency is written in the history books, the harshest criticism will be reserved for the GOP leadership in Congress, which put party over country and refused to defend our institutions and the rule of law when they were most at risk. https://t.co/qZTyOtBwT3
- Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said he would still move forward with the bill in his committee.
- James Comey fired back at President Trump for his repeated calls to jail him.
Fired FBI Director James Comey: "The President of the United States just said that a private citizen should be jailed. And I think the reaction of most of us was, 'meh, that's another one of those things.' This is not normal. This is not OK." https://t.co/LVI08CT9ha
- After President Trump’s new Economic Policy Adviser Larry Kudlow said that UN Ambassador Nikki Haley “got ahead of the curve” when it came to her decision on the Russian sanctions Trump rolled back and that “there might have been some momentary confusion about that,” Haley responded:
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
- After it was revealed the Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity was Michael Cohen’s 3rd client, the “news” org pledged their “full support” of him.
- InfoWars host, and conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones might finally face the music.
Three parents whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting have filed defamation lawsuits against Alex Jones, the Infowars host who has falsely claimed the 2012 massacre was faked. https://t.co/223NgdhEFm
- As North Korea and South Korea worked to end hostilities between the two nations, President Trump and his administration had an open line of communication. The Associated Press reported:
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the U.S. and North Korea are holding direct talks at “extremely high levels” in preparation for a potential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and Kim have not spoken directly.
- President Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (who is currently being consumed by a corruption investigation in his own country) at Mar-a-Lago.
- One person died after a Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing.
Wednesday, April 18
Remember Puerto Rico
7 months since Hurricane Maria rattled Puerto Rico.
7 months since the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, called for the federal government to help out these American citizens.
7 months since President Trump responded by claiming Mayor Cruz had “poor leadership” and claiming the people of Puerto Rico “want everything done for them.”
On Wednesday, Puerto Rico was hit with an islandwide blackout and was still ill-equipped to handle the situation.
By Wednesday afternoon, service had been restored in at least seven municipalities, five hospitals and at San Juan’s airport. About 51,000 customers, out of 1.4 million, had power.
The utility said its priority was to bring back service to medical facilities, water pumping systems and financial institutions.
Video and photos posted on social media showed rapid transit line workers helping down passengers from stalled trains and college students registering for classes during the blackout. Long lines of cars formed at gas stations and a fire broke out in an electrical generator behind a restaurant in the Condado tourist district.
“Seven months after Maria, we are back where Maria left us,” Cynthia Garcia Coll, a professor at Carlos Albizu University in San Juan, said via email.
- President Trump had yet another colorful morning on Twitter. Trump tweeted his first remarks on the Stormy Daniels case, calling the sketch photo of the person who allegedly threatened Daniels “a total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools.” Trump went on to say, “Slippery James Comey…was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation…” Clearly, Trump forgot that we have footage of him on May 11, 2017, discussing why he fired Comey: “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, you know, ‘this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.’”
@realDonaldTrump Trump today: "Slippery James Comey…was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation…" Trump on May 11, 2017 on firing Comey: "When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, you know, 'this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.'" https://t.co/13ysJ5CWu9
And that time in the Oval Office…
@realDonaldTrump On May 10, 2017-the day after firing Comey-Trump reportedly told Russian officials in the Oval Office: "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off. I'm not under investigation."https://t.co/0BNcrygfeC
- According to CNN, President Trump is “apoplectic” about the investigation into his personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
- A huge development in the Karen McDougal case. The New York Times reported:
The tabloid news company American Media Inc. agreed to let a former Playboy model out of a contract that had kept her from talking freely about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump.
The settlement agreement, reached on Wednesday, ends a lawsuit brought by the model, Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign.
He still faces another lawsuit from Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels. Ms. Clifford is suing to get out of a deal that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, arranged in 2016 for her silence about an alleged affair. Mr. Trump’s representatives have denied both women’s stories.
One of President Donald Trump’s longtime legal advisers said he warned the president in a phone call Friday that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and close friend, would turn against the president and cooperate with federal prosecutors if faced with criminal charges.
- House Republicans made yet another move further showcasing their complicity in President Trump’s degradation of democratic norms.
11 House Republicans are calling on Attorney General Sessions to prosecute (in no particular order): -Hillary Clinton -James Comey -Andrew McCabe -Sally Yates -Loretta Lynch -Peter Strzok -Lisa Page -Dana Boente Their letter: https://t.co/mwsLZD60bA
Both dangerous and deranged https://t.co/QXdbkUDF4v
- The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is launching a probe into EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s irresponsible spending of the American people’s money.
- The Washington Post’s National Investigative Reporter Carol Leonnig reported:
The Russian government was given a backdoor assurance on Sunday that no more sanctions were coming and to just ignore Nikki Haley. https://t.co/bC8JeSbehg
- We learned more about CIA Director, and Secretary of State nominee, Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend. This news came as Pompeo’s confirmation process was hitting road bumps. CNN reported:
The two top ranking Democrats on the Senate foreign relations committee announced their opposition Wednesday to CIA Director Mike Pompeo becoming the next secretary of state.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the committee, and Sen. Ben Cardin, the №2 Democrat, released statements laying out their objections. Menendez, specifically faulted Pompeo for not disclosing his recently discovered trip to North Korea to meet with dictator Kim Jong Un.
- As American teenagers around the nation prepared for the upcoming national walkout on Friday, some students in Washington, D.C. decided make a demonstration ahead of time.
4 high school students just arrested after a brief sit-in for gun control outside @SpeakerRyan's DC office.
I don't know about you but a government that doesn't listen to it's children and puts the profits of special interests over lives sounds pretty tyrannical to me. @SpeakerRyan listen to our call for action #AllowTheVote https://t.co/CqYc7H5Nus
- Here’s a poll that should make every American concerned about the effectiveness of right-wing propaganda…“More than half of Republicans now think that the FBI is actively biased against Trump.”
Thursday, April 19
“It’s Cohen That’s Consuming Him.”
Today, brought with it a flood of news related to the investigations that are weighing down on President Trump.
CNN reported that President Trump is happy with the way the White House and Republicans have coordinated their campaign to discredit former FBI Director James Comey’s book tour, but the corruption investigation into his personal lawyer Michael Cohen is “consuming” him. This came as multiple reports claimed President Trump and his allies are becoming worried that Michael Cohen may cooperate with federal prosecutors as pressure mounts on him (why would they be concerned if there was nothing to hide?)
Speaking of having nothing to hide, Bloomberg reported that last week Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump that he isn’t a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation or the Cohen corruption investigation. This reportedly reassured Trump, making him back off what appeared to be an imminent firing of Rosenstein:
“After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probes. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.”
This appears to indicate that Trump would be more likely to fire Rosenstein or Mueller if he became a target of the investigation. Again we ask, does that sound like the conduct of an individual with nothing to hide?
Important to note that The Washington Post previously reported last month Mueller told Trump’s lawyers that Trump is a subject of the Russia investigation but is not a criminal target. As CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin points out; a target “is almost certainly going to be indicted” whereas a subject is “someone who is being scrutinized, who may be indicted, who may not be indicted.”
Chief legal analyst @JeffreyToobin explains how Trump can be a subject in Mueller's probe but not a target. A target "is almost certainly going to be indicted"; a subject is "someone who is being scrutinized, who may be indicted, who may not be indicted" https://t.co/J3RCGNmrAU https://t.co/0r3vsPzfFT
President Trump shouldn’t be so reassured that he isn’t a target because being a subject still places him under scrutiny.
- Within hours of Congress receiving Comey’s memos, they were leaked. They were largely in line with Comey’s testimony with some new unforeseen details, including this tidbit: “Putin had told [Trump], ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.’” Read them for yourself. And there’s this…which later proved to be an accurate analysis.
Look, all I'm saying is that it fits.
It, uh, fits here too.
Also, this excerpt from the memo was very concerning
Trump to Comey: "[Trump] replied that we need to go after the reporters…it may involve putting reporters in jail. They spend a couple days in jail. Make a new friend. And they are ready to talk." #ComeyMemos
I spent years covering countries where reporters are put in jail for doing their jobs: China, Russia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Iran. It is an all-too-real tactic employed by undemocratic leaders around the world. Not to be dismissed or trifled with. https://t.co/HePVMkPH2M
- In other authoritarian-like news…
Some news in our story tonight: Trump has disturbed his advisers this week with calls to prosecute Comey, McCabe & Clinton. So far, he's not taking any action. He has also griped about Gorsuch loudly this week. https://t.co/o8hGDFbHR3
- After being constantly berated by President Trump directly and on Twitter, being fired less two days before his retirement would give him access to his pension, former acting FBI Director (and witness in Mueller’s obstruction of justice inquiry) Andrew McCabe may face a criminal investigation. The Washington Post reported:
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors are examining whether they have sufficient evidence to open a criminal investigation into Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. director, his lawyer said on Thursday, after a Justice Department inspector general report repeatedly faulted him for misleading investigators.
The inquiry is certain to add to an already corrosive atmosphere pitting Mr. McCabe and other current and former law enforcement officials against President Trump. The president has accused them of concocting a baseless investigation into possible links between his associates and Russia’s election interference.
@jaketapper @PamelaBrownCNN It may be referral is mandated but in my experience many OIG investigative conclusions are referred to US Attny's Ofc as matter of course for review. This type of referral very uncommon for prosecution & usually would be left up to agency for admin action, of which could be none.
THREAD: What did former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe allegedly do? What is happening to him now?
- Former New York City Mayor, and enthusiastic Trump campaign surrogate, Rudy Giuliani is joining Trump’s legal team. Giuliani told The Washington Post he would try and negotiate an end to the Mueller probe. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman pointed out that “Giuliani is a former US Attorney in the Southern District of NY, which is the office probing Cohen — the probe Trump lawyers are most worried about.” Important to note that Giuliani has still not answered for why he seemed to have preemptive knowledge of the fateful Comey letter released 11 days before the election.
- Bloomberg reported:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a “back channel” between the campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the election, a Justice Department lawyer told a judge.
The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. Manafort’s lawyers say those alleged crimes have nothing to do with Mueller’s central mission — to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government.
Two of President Trump’s top legislative allies met with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein this week to press him for more documents about the conduct of law enforcement officials involved in the Russia probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, according to three people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussion.
Rosenstein’s meeting at his office Monday with Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) came days after Meadows, an influential Trump confidant, warned Rosenstein that he could soon face impeachment proceedings or an effort to hold him in contempt of Congress if he did not satisfy GOP demands for documents.
Trump and Meadows spoke at some point after the meeting, the three people said, but they declined to share details of the exchange.
- Cohen dropped the libel lawsuit he had against Buzzfeed and Fusion GPS over their publishing of the Christopher Steele dossier.
- CNN reported that “In interviews with a cross-section of more than two dozen GOP lawmakers, ranging from rank-and-file members, conservatives and party leaders, many refused to say they’d back Trump’s re-election bid.”
- The Senate confirmed a climate change denier to head NASA. The Washington Post reported:
The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine as NASA administrator, despite deep concerns from Democrats that he lacks the scientific and management expertise to lead the space agency.
The vote to install the three-term Oklahoma Republican was 50 to 49. President Trump had initially tapped Bridenstine for the post last year, but his nomination stalled amid Democratic criticisms, as well as some reticence from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who said Thursday that NASA should be led by a professional with a background in space.
- Along with other world-changers in TIME’s Annual 100 Most Influential People list, the Parkland leaders were featured. And the person who wrote the article honoring them was none other than President Barack Obama.
Our kids now show us what we've told them America is all about, even if we haven't always believed it ourselves: that our future isn't written for us, but by us." – @BarackObama #TIME100 https://t.co/R2GNJUSLeY
- Can’t go a day without a President Trump misstatement.
Human trafficking is worse than its ever been in the history of the world." Trump said this.
An estimated 12.5 million Africans were trafficked to the Americas between 1525 and 1866. https://t.co/dOXzrlYRd5
- Oh, how could we forget your daily dose of Scott Pruitt corruption. Reuters reported that the EPA Director “spent about $45,000 in government money to fly five people to Australia to prepare for a planned trip that was later canceled.” Also, there were new details about his controversial trip to Morocco which ties back to the Washington lobbyist who arranged the $50-a-night condo situation for Pruitt. Yup. Can’t make this stuff up.
Friday, April 20
The Kids Are All Right
That headline isn’t a typo. These kids are right. And we should listen to them.
Today, we saw the next generation of leaders continue to rise to the occasion in the midst of tragedy.
In commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, students from 2,500 walked out of class to demand meaningful gun reform. Many of these students registered their peers to vote, turning their energy into concrete action. They were joined by the organizers of the March For Our Lives.
This mass youth movement is being triggered by a genuine fear these kids have for their lives. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that the majority of teenagers are worried that a school shooting could happen at their school. Clearly, this fear is warranted. Just today, a student was injured in a school shooting in Florida.
Once again, the youth has proved that they will not quit until they’ve enacted change and these mass shootings stop. And aside from mass shootings: the student activists, especially the Parkland survivors, have made a point to make the movement intersectional. Activists of color deserve a platform, given the fact gun violence rattles black communities.
Although some of these kids are too young to cast a ballot, they have proven they aren’t too young to lead.
The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.
The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.
The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC sued President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.
President Trump responded. And in typical Trump fashion, there was a typo…if you can call it that.
- Vox had an exclusive:
President Donald Trump sharply questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray during a White House meeting on January 22 about why two senior FBI officials — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — were still in their jobs despite allegations made by allies of the president that they had been disloyal to him and had unfairly targeted him and his administration, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The president also pressed his attorney general and FBI director to work more aggressively to uncover derogatory information within the FBI’s files to turn over to congressional Republicans working to discredit the two FBI officials, according to the same sources.
The very next day, Trump met Sessions again, this time without Wray present, and even more aggressively advocated that Strzok and Page be fired, the sources said.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly made quite the threat when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s future was uncertain. The Washington Post reported:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the exchange.
Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.
- North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un is claiming that “he will suspend nuclear and missile tests starting Saturday and that he will shut down the site where the previous six nuclear tests were conducted.”
- So, as we know, within hours of Congress receiving Comey’s memos on Thursday, they were leaked by Republican lawmakers. They were largely in line with Comey’s testimony with some some of the unforeseen details I mentioned earlier. We also discovered that President Trump didn’t like the fact former national security adviser Michael Flynn didn’t return a congratulatory phone call from Putin in earlier than six days. And, of course, President Trump had a midnight response, tweeting:
James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?
President Trump clearly didn’t read the same memos we did.
- Trump’s son-in-law, and White House Senior Adviser, Jared Kushner’s company received a federal subpoena. The Wall Street Journal reported:
WASHINGTON — The real-estate company run by the family of White House adviser Jared Kushner in mid-March received a federal grand-jury subpoena for information related to paperwork the company filed in New York City concerning its rent-regulated tenants, according to people familiar with the matter.
- A blow was struck to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ efforts to crack down on Sanctuary cities. Buzzfeed reported:
A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that local governments nationwide don’t need to provide certain types of help to federal immigration authorities in order to get millions of dollars in federal grants.
- NBC News reported:
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Friday told lawyers for President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen that Cohen needs to file a declaration in court in order to delay a lawsuit filed by porn actress Stormy Daniels aimed at dissolving a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from talking about an alleged affair with Trump.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claims that in President Trump’s March phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said: “he would be glad to see [Putin] in the White House.”
- Former Campaign Adviser Roger Stone, and longtime “dirty trickster,” told The New York Times that “Donald goes out of his way to treat [Michael Cohen] like garbage.”
- President Trump once again insinuated that he wanted to see former FBI Director James Comey go to jail.
Like clockwork, he sent a “fake news” tweet later in the day.
So far, @realDonaldTrump has already done two things on our list from this morning: Insinuate that he wants a private citizen he deems an opponent to be jailed ✅ Call the media "fake news" ✅ We just want to reaffirm that this rhetoric is unacceptable from a US President.
- President Trump took yet another counterproductive action.
BREAKING: Trump to shift federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention to abstinence-focused programs https://t.co/fzbUPO8tI3
Abstinence-focused programs have never worked ever because all they're about is controlling women. https://t.co/Cfdj8mEF3l
- John Barron made a triumphant return.
Ex-Forbes reporter says he was misled into overstating Trump's wealth, including him in the Forbes 400. Posing as an aide named 'John Barron' in '82, Trump convinced the reporter he was worth $100 million; he was actually worth roughly $5 million then. https://t.co/LzltPO7np9
Have we even talked about how Trump named his son after his alter ego
I stand by my hypothesis that this presidency was written by a drunk Aaron Sorkin.
- Kevin Williamson, the conservative writer who was fired from The Atlantic for saying he believed women who get abortions should be hanged (1/4 of women), wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal crying marginalization.
This is blatant nonsense. Women talk candidly about abortion. Mothers talk candidly about abortion. **Motherhood made me more pro-choice and anti-forced pregnancy**. If Kevin Williamson can't hear women like me over his own misogyny, that's his goddamn problem.
Sorry about Kevin Williamson's marginalization, as he has now been reduced to writing for such fringe publications as *squints* the WSJ editorial page.
Kevin Williamson: "The twitter mob ruined my career look how marginalized I am." Also Kevin Williamson: *writes a glamorized op-ed in the WALL STREET JOURNAL*
In light of the Kevin Williamson @WSJ op-ed… Media must understand that some things are objectively indecent. If one side of the argument is bigoted, violent, or deliberately dishonest-it shouldn't be weighed equally. Elevating indecency is not objectivity. It's complicity.
The right has a distinct misunderstanding of free speech. As Americans, we have a right to say, think, and believe whatever we want to. But that does not guarantee us the right to a platform to promote our ideas…especially if they’re violent and bigoted.
- President Trump shared some thoughts on OPEC that Stephanie Ruhle handled in her typical boss-like manner.
Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!
- President Trump continued his attacks on the Special Council; I mean Counsel.
James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council? Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everybody know what that means?
- Wells Fargo was hit with a $1 billion fine for home and auto loan abuses.
- Today, on 4/20 no less, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced his plans to introduce legislation at the federal level to de-criminalize marijuana. We’d like to point out that not only would the de-criminalization of marijuana help to reduce the mass incarceration of black people for non-violent drug crimes; it would also boost the economy and serve a meaningful purpose in combatting the opioid epidemic.
Marijuana has killed 0 people. In fact, states that offer medical marijuana actually see a decrease in opioid prescriptions and overdose mortality rates. In spite of this fact, AG Jeff Sessions wants to re-criminalize legal cannabis. #420day https://t.co/sAdt03lSEo
Sessions rescinded the Obama-era policy of federal non-interference in states with legal marijuana That's bad for business-states who legalize marijuana see surges in revenue By 2020, marijuana is expected to produce more jobs than manufacturing #420day https://t.co/geOhOtcj0Y
A reminder that any discussion re: legalizing marijuana needs to address the way current drug policies disproportionately attack communities of color #420day
Over the weekend…
As the nation mourned First Lady Barbara Bush (a funeral Trump did not attend), President Trump spent the weekend attacking reporters on Twitter.
First, it was Maggie Haberman.
On the day the political world comes together to mourn a former First Lady, Trump falsely says he doesn't speak to @maggieNYT and unfairly attacks her, defames a person by calling him "drugged up," and tries to convince his personal lawyer from flipping. Then heads to golf course
A few things – Trump is referring to @NunbergSam in his tweet. He's too aware of what Stone could do to him to be that direct. Also, Trump has been abusive to all his staffers at various points, but continues to greet @CLewandowski_ better than most https://t.co/coxNMRVCUl
Donald Trump is truly embarrassing I remember when the president was a decent person. Imperfect, but despite mistakes they made, you knew they thought they were doing what was best for America But not @realDonaldTrump-He is an indecent man whose only motive is self-preservation https://t.co/dteZ65WtrD
Then, he went for MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.
Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven't given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!
This isn’t the first time he’s done this, and it surely won’t be the last. We won’t stop highlighting these personal attacks because this is not business as usual. We must not forget that a man was arrested in January of this year for calling CNN 22 times threatening: “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down…I’m smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”
President Trump’s reckless words are being listened to and internalized by his millions of supporters. The prospect of the president radicalizing Americans is dangerous.
As POTUS attacks journalists by name, remember: A man was arrested for calling @CNN 22 times & threatening to kill CNN reporters-echoing Trump's "fake news" jab-"Fake news. I'm coming to gun you all down" @realDonaldTrump, you are radicalizing your base This is dangerous Stop
- More of Sean Hannity’s conflicts of interest were revealed and we had more an idea of what Michael Cohen may have advised Hannity on.
NEW: Sean Hannity revealed as secret owner behind shell companies that have spent $90m buying 870+ homes across the US – with help from HUD and foreclosures https://t.co/9LHGb7ApRc
- 4 people were killed by a semi-nude shooter (who is still on the loose) at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee. A hero saved the day.
This is James Shaw. He's a hero. His hands are burned from grabbing the barrel of a gun used to kill four people at a Nashville Waffle House. He says he's sorry he couldn't save more people. https://t.co/QXIevQLfM1
- President Trump continued…
The Washington Post said I refer to Jeff Sessions as "Mr. Magoo" and Rod Rosenstein as "Mr. Peepers." This is "according to people with whom the president has spoken." There are no such people and don't know these characters…just more Fake & Disgusting News to create ill will!
And Maggie Haberman, who arguably has more access to the White House than any reporter in the country, set the record straight.
They're both true. https://t.co/UcL1qxS9Gw
If the memos are totally made up then there is literally nothing to classify or declassify or leak. i'm so tired
And of course, can’t end a week without a short and sweet witch hunt tweet.
A complete Witch Hunt!
- While Trump was having Twitter temper tantrums, eroding democratic norms, etc. — the presidents, first ladies, and leaders of the past celebrated the life of Barbara Bush.
When you finally drop the guy everyone hates from the group chat