A Complete Breakdown Of Trump’s 22nd Unpresidented Week As POTUS
22 weeks in and they’ve learned nothing.
President Trump and his team are still handling the Russia investigation with about as much grace as a bow legged bull in a Russian glassware shop.
Republican representatives in Congress proved that they still haven’t remembered who their bosses are. They still don’t quite get that their board of directors are the American people (you know, the folks who put them in power in the first place). And now, the board is watching their every move anxiously awaiting the opportunity to vote them out.
Meanwhile, tensions in the Middle East surged, more revealing information on the Trump-Russia investigation leaked, and we got a little more info on why we’ve been seeing less of Sean Spicer.
A lot happened this week, and everyone’s worst habits were on full display.
Here’s a complete breakdown of Trump’s 22nd week as POTUS:
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
Fresh off President Trump’s Friday morning admission that he is indeed under investigation for obstruction of justice by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow made his rounds on Sunday shows in an effort to defend the President…it did not go well.
It appeared the White House’s strategy was to have Sekulow deny that Trump was being investigated at all, and claim Trump was simply reacting to the The Washington Post’s report. Not only did Sekulow directly contradict what President Trump asserted on Friday, in his interview with Chris Wallace, he directly contradicted himself. Sekulow asserted Trump is not under investigation…after saying he was being investigated just a few seconds earlier…
Wallace: You've now said he' is being investigated after saying he wasn't. Sekulow: No. Wallace: You JUST said he's being investigated. https://t.co/KCXULFEXqM
- The Trump administration was planning to work with House Republicans in an effort to water down the Senate’s bipartisan bill that places new sanctions on Russia and limits the President’s power to remove them. The bill passed 98–2 in the Senate. Given the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia and Trump’s desperate attempt at self-vindication, this administration is doing itself no favors by trying to weaken a bill that imposes punishment on a foreign adversary that assaulted our democracy
- 6 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned suddenly stating that President Trump has no strategy and “simply does not care” about combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic
- A 17 year old muslim teenager was abducted and killed on Sunday after leaving a Northern Virginia mosque
22nd Week (June 19–23)
Monday, June 19
Russia said that it would treat any US-led coalition craft that flies west of the Euphrates River as a potential target and stated that they were ending the Syrian air safety agreement with the US which was created in an effort to avoid any collisions between Russian and US aircraft.
This came after the US military made a move that hasn’t been done since the Syria conflict began in 2014. They shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter. The move came after the Russia-allied Syrian Government Forces dropped bombs near the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces west of Raqqa (ISIS’ de facto capitol in Syria). Needless to say, tensions are running high between the US and Russia as we move further away from this being a proxy war to it being a direct one.
As President Trump continues his hands off approach leaving the US military with minimal civilian oversight, Secretary of Defense James Mattis remains our de facto Commander-in-Chief. Will he remain measured, or plunge us deeper into conflict in the Middle East? With the announcement of up to 4,000 additional troops being sent to Afghanistan to take on the Taliban, an increase in civilian casualties at the hands of the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq, and a more aggressive overall approach to combating ISIS — we can begin to make guesses as to where this could be headed…
- President Trump hosted Juan Carlos Varela, the President of Panama at the White House. During the photo op, President Trump stated, “The Panama Canal is doing quite well. I think we did a good job building it…” Fun fact:
In 2011, Panama declared Trump a "persona non grata" after saying the US "stupidly" turned over control of the Panama Canal. #context https://t.co/a38GQTbJM1
- While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was making moves behind the scenes to push the Senate GOP’s healthcare bill forward, Senate Democrats turned to parliamentary tactics in an effort to delay the bill — preparing to halt business as usual by objecting to all requests for unanimous consent
- The Supreme Court announced that they would hear the Wisconsin gerrymandering case. The ruling on this case will have monumental ramifications for how districts are drawn, and could very well put an end to the GOP abused tactic of politicians selecting their voters rather than the other way around. This news comes as rumors fly of Justice Kennedy’s potential retirement. If that were the case, then that would mean Trump will be able to appoint another conservative justice…If that happens, it’s pretty easy to guess what direction this ruling would go
- McClatchy DC reported that “Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appears to have failed to report a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia on behalf of a US/Russia business plan to build nuclear reactors”
- Gizmodo reported that a “Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server.”
Tuesday, June 20
The Georgia 6
On Tuesday, all eyes were on Georgia’s 6th congressional district and rightfully so. 30 year old Democrat Jon Ossoff was facing off against former Georgia Secretary of State and Republican candidate Karen Handel. Ossoff was leading the polls for quite some time, but after the shooting of Steve Scalise, there was a noticeable swing in the other direction. Ossoff lost by less than 10,000 votes (about 4%). Pundits began calling this and the other special elections as a “demoralizing” loss for the Democrats and some even pointed to it as a huge win for Trump and the GOP…if you forget all context and facts, than those pundits’ takes were accurate.
First of all, Georgia’s 6th district has been held by the Republicans since 1979 (thanks to gerrymandering) and in 2016 Tom Price (now HHS Secretary) won the district by 23%. Ossoff outperformed all projections based on historical voting trends in a ruby red district, all while not even living in the district he was running in. And if you look at the other special elections this year, you’ll see similar overperformance for Democrats.
When you look at Jon Ossoff’s performance in Georgia’s 6th, you shouldn’t see a “demoralizing” defeat for the Democrats. You should see a well known and established Republican in Georgia who was barely able to win a seat in a deeply red district. This, and other Democrat’s overperformance, is indicative of a surge in enthusiasm on the left and depicts the damage Trump is doing to the GOP. Republicans shouldn’t be celebrating…they should be worried. 2018 is coming.
- The White House continued their aversion to on-camera press conferences and rumors began to fly of Sean Spicer’s potential move away from the role of Press Secretary. Steve Bannon reportedly responded to a request for comment with a text message that simply stated: “Sean got fatter.” There was no follow up.
After stating that the Press Secretary has become “kind of useless,” CNN’s chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta spoke on the dangers of the Trump administration’s lack of access:
“It feels like we’re slowly but surely being dragged into what is a new normal in this country, where the president of the United States is allowed to insulate himself from answering hard questions.”
Make no mistake about what we are all witnessing. This is a WH that is stonewalling the news media. Hiding behind no camera/no audio gaggles
- When asked about whether or not President Trump accepts the US Intelligence Community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, Sean Spicer stated that he has not spoke to Trump about that…
- It was confirmed that the Senate GOP would finally release the text of their secret healthcare bill this week
- Federal Investigators are also reportedly investigating Michael Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kianthe, and whether or not his payments from foreign clients were lawful
- Speaking of Michael Flynn, The New York Times dropped a concerning report. The FBI, the CIA, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were all convinced that Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government…Despite this knowledge, CIA Director Mike Pompeo continued to provide President Trump with briefings on the US’ most sensitive and classified secrets with Michael Flynn in the room. Reckless is one word you could use to describe this absurdity
Wednesday, June 21
As the weeks go by, we learn more about just how extensive Russia’s hacking efforts really were. First, came the NSA leak from Reality Winner two weeks ago, revealing that Russia tried to hack a voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to over 100 US local election officials in an effort to gain access to voter registration rolls. Then last week, Bloomberg reported that “investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database…”
Now we have even more info and confirmation of some prior reporting. During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security’s acting Director of Cyber Division Samuel Liles testified that 21 states were potentially targeted by Russian-linked entities. DHS official Jeanette Manfra corroborated Liles’ testimony.
DHS official Jeanette Manfra on Russian interference: "We have evidence of 21 states…that were targeted." https://t.co/gfIMyCQ3Eh
It’s important to note that there was no reported evidence that any vote tallies were altered.
- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos selected the CEO of a private student loan company to lead the Education Department’s student loan system
- The top attorney in the US, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has secured a private attorney of his own to help him handle the Russia probe
- The Congressional Black Caucus rejected an invitation to meet with President Trump
Thursday, June 22
The Senate’s H̶e̶a̶l̶t̶h̶c̶a̶r̶e̶ Tax Cut Bill
After treating their healthcare bill like a secret covert operation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally released The Better Care Reconciliation Act. As it stands, it reads more like a thinly veiled attempt to obtain a tax cut for the rich at the expense of American lives. McConnell needs at least 50 votes (VP Pence would then issue the tie breaking vote in favor of the GOP) in order to get the bill through. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate and some have already expressed their opposition to the bill. As we await the damage report from the Congressional Budget Office this week and the upcoming vote, here are some of the components of the bill:
- Repeals approximately 10 different ACA taxes
- Prevents new enrollments under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion starting in 2020, allows states to add work requirements for Medicaid recipients, allows states to increase the amount of eligibility checks, and:
Starting in 2025, federal reimbursements to states for Medicaid will increase by the U.S. general rate of inflation as opposed to the medical rate of inflation.
Due to the fact that the U.S. medical inflation rate is substantially greater than the general rate of inflation, this means Medicaid funding will not keep up with the cost of medical services after 2024.
- Cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year
- Ends the individual and employer mandates
- Ends the federal enforcement of the ACA’s medical loss ratio provision which forces insurers to spend 80–85% of the premium dollars they collect on medical care for their policyholders, then passing it over to the states to chose whether or not to enforce it
If you want all the details, check this piece out.
- A disgraceful scene outside of Mitch McConnell’s office as disabled protesters of the Senate’s healthcare bill were forcibly removed from their wheelchairs
Protesters of the Senate's #HealthcareBill forcibly taken out of their wheelchairs outside of McConnell's office
- President Trump tweeted his support of the bill
I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead.
- CNN reported that in separate meetings, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers told Special Counsel Robert Mueller that President Trump suggested that they publicly declare that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives
- TIME reported that election hackers stole voter data on tens of thousands of Americans and altered at least one voter roll
“Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign”
- After some paranoid tweets denying any collusion with Russia, Trump finally addressed the cliffhanger he left weeks ago…
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…
whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
According to Trump, there are no tapes.
Friday, June 23
An Admission Of More Meddling
Trump tells Fox that James Comey's story "may have changed" after hearing their may be tapes, says, "my story was always a straight story" https://t.co/QWsUYJxpzO
In this striking interview, President Trump appears to admit that he intentionally lied about having tapes on Comey’s conversations in an effort to influence FBI Director James Comey’s testimony…Many pointed to this as an example of intimidating a witness. When your campaign is being investigated for potentially helping a foreign power meddle in our democracy and you are currently under investigation for obstruction of justice for firing the man who was leading that investigation, you should probably stop meddling in that investigation. Trump’s streak of self-incrimination continues…
- A comprehensive report from The Washington Post dove into the details of the Obama administration’s handling of Russia’s interference. It broke down how the intel that Putin was personally orchestrating the interference was delivered to Obama and revealed the pre-election measures the President and his team weighed. I won’t dive into the nuts and bolts of it here but it’s a must read
- The Carrier plant, the one Trump gave tax breaks to and claimed he saved their jobs from Mexico, is sending 600 or more jobs to Mexico
- The New York Times reported that “Federal investigators are examining financial transactions involving Paul Manafort and his son-in-law”
- There has been rampant speculation that President Trump is considering ordering Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. When asked if he believes Robert Mueller should recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump stated:
“Well, he is very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome…We’re going to have to see.”
“We’re going to have to see.”
Yes. Yes we are.
We’ll have to wait and see which Republicans will choose American lives over party and vote no on this horrific excuse for a healthcare bill.
We’ll have to wait and see whether this administration will ever take Russia’s interference in our democracy seriously and finally take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
And we’ll have to wait and see what Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will yield. As it stands, it appears President Trump is giving Mueller more incriminating evidence as the days and tweets fly by us.
But one thing is for sure, with every lie that comes out of Trump’s mouth, we’re getting closer to the truth.