A Complete Breakdown Of Trump’s Eighteenth Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Eighteenth Weekend (May 20–21)

White House Adviser, and Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

White House Adviser, and Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Embarrassment abroad. Trouble at home.

This week ended where it began: A White House trying to extinguish a raging fire while it’s raining gasoline.

Things aren’t looking good for the man in the Oval. His son-in-law is a focus of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation for trying to set up a secret channel of communication with Russia. His former national security adviser is swatting away subpoenas, risking jail time to stay quiet. And as for Trump…he seems to be running out of his “finite amount of energy,” as he leads from behind via golf cart.

While the Trump-Russia story unfolded at home, Trump was stumbling around the globe in his first trip abroad. You’ve probably read quite a few articles by now about the trip saying it wasn’t all that bad because Trump managed not to trip over his own shoelaces… I’m here to tell you, it was that bad.

The trip led to German Chancellor Angela Merkel essentially saying she can no longer depend on the U.S.

Just when you think things can’t get any wilder, they do. Each week brings us closer to the truth but further from sanity…

Here’s a complete breakdown of Trump’s embarrassing eighteenth week as President of the United States:

“Islam Hates Us” But It’s Great

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, And President Donald Trump (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, And President Donald Trump (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

President Trump continued his embrace of autocrats in his first foreign trip abroad. Rather than visiting one of our democratic allies first, Trump chose to head to Saudi Arabia. Having spent his presidential campaign bashing Saudi Arabia and suggesting they were behind 9/11, Trump took a distinctly different tone during the trip. This visit was in stark contrast to his NATO HQ visit later in the week. Trump’s Saudi visit in a nut shell:

  • US closed a $110 billion arms deal (with the help of Jared Kushner)
  • Ivanka received a $100 million pledge to her Women’s Entrepreneur Fund from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Trump had a different opinion when the Clinton Foundation took Saudi money
  • Trump gave a speech calling for unity in the fight against ISIS, avoided his typical Islamophobic rhetoric, and stated “we are not here to lecture,” essentially side-stepping the US’ usual emphasis on the importance of human rights and democratic values (something Saudi Arabia is severely lacking). Iran is the enemy in Trump’s view, a reversal from Obama who made attempts to urge reform in Iran

  • Trump touched a glowing globe
  • Trump stumbled through a sword dance
  • Tillerson held a press conference without US reporters

In other news…

  • Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement speech at Notre Dame went well

  • White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon returned to the Washington early so that they could hold down the fort for what would be quite the week…

Eighteenth Week (May 22–26)

Monday May 22

“I never mentioned the word or the name Israel”

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Ahead of President Trump’s trip to Israel, tensions had risen. During his reckless Oval Office meeting with Russian officials two weeks ago, Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence, revealing the location of a US intelligence source critical to the fight against ISIS and a potential plot involving laptops on commercial flights. That source was provided by Israel. In an effort to defend that meeting Trump confirmed that the source was indeed from Israel.

In another noteworthy moment from the trip, Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall.

Trump also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial for the six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. Trump left a note that read more like a middle school yearbook autograph than a statement of remembrance.

In other news…

  • Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who we learned misled Pentagon Investigators about his contacts and income from Russia, invoked the Fifth Amendment while rejecting the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena for records related to his Russia ties. Flynn could be held in contempt of Congress and face a criminal charge.

  • In another obstructive move, Trump reportedly urged Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and the Director of the National Security Agency Admiral Michael S. Rogers to publicly deny that there is any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. Coats and Rogers denied the request
  • The White House was making progress assembling his legal team to to help him handle the investigation into his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia
  • Stating that he wanted to speak to Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller first, former FBI Director James Comey postponed his appearance before the House Oversight Committee which was previously scheduled for this Wednesday
  • The Trump administration sent a letter to the head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub, requesting that the OGE suspend their effort to obtain the names of former lobbyists that Trump granted waivers for to work in his administration. Shaub sent a letter back, declining the request

Tuesday May 23

A New Foundation For American Weakness

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget — Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget — Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

While Trump was still in Israel, his administration unveiled their budget called “A New Foundation For American Greatness.” If by greatness they meant debilitating weakness than yes, that is a fitting title. The budget hits the poorest Americans the hardest (especially Trump’s own supporters), cutting departments and programs they depend on. This budget will likely not pass in its current form, but budgets reveal what one deems important. It’s a clear way of viewing the Trump administration’s priorities. Here’s a look at the budget:

EPA — 31.4% decrease

State Department — 29.1% decrease

Department of Labor — 19.8% decrease

Department of Housing and Urban Development — 13.2% decrease

Corps of Engineers — 16.3% decrease

Department of Education — 13.5% decrease

Department of Transportation — 12.7% decrease

Homeland Security — 6.8% increase

Department of Defense — 10.1% increase

Veterans Affairs — 5.8% increase

Department of Justice — 3.8% decrease

Department of the Interior — 10.9% decrease

Also included is a cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program of at least 20% and nearly 25% (more than $800 Billion) in steep cuts to Medicaid.

I’ll just leave this here…

In other news…

  • In his testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan stated that he saw contacts between Trump’s campaign team and Russian operatives that concerned him

  • After Michael Flynn’s denial, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued two new subpoenas in an attempt to retrieve documents related to his interactions with Russia
  • ISIS claims responsibility for the tragic Manchester terrorist attack and President Donald Trump proclaimed he would from now on call terrorists “losers”

Wednesday May 24

Nope Francis

President Trump visited the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis. Trump and the Pope have had beef in the past. In 2016 Pope Francis famously said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” After this remark, Trump made the wild assertion that Mexico was using Pope Francis as a pawn and proclaimed, “for a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.” No doubt this past discourse hovered over their meeting as Pope Francis urged President Trump to honor the US’ commitments to combating climate change.

In other news…

  • The DOJ revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when applying for his security clearance
  • The New York Times reported that US officials had intercepted Russian communications where they discussed how to use Paul Manafort (Trump campaign chairman at the time) and former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn to influence Trump. The Russians reportedly boasted about how well they knew Flynn

  • The House Intelligence Committee is joining the Senate’s efforts, also issuing subpoenas to Michael Flynn
  • Transcripts from President Trump and Philippine President Duterte’s April 29 phone call were revealed. During the call, Trump praised Duterte, boasted about “two nuclear submarines” off the coast of North Korea, and called Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons.” The news of the submarine location being revealed left Pentagon officials in shock.
  • According to NBC News, “President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as private attorney on matters related to the Russia investigation”
  • Despite promising to donate all profits earned from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, MSNBC revealed that the Trump Organization is not tracking all possible payments it receives from foreign governments
  • The Congressional Budget Office released their score of House Republican’s healthcare legislation and it wasn’t pretty: 23 million more to lose insurance by 2026
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson said that poverty is a “state of mind”
  • The night before the Montana special election, GOP candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter. The following day he was charged with assault…and won the election

  • Meanwhile, Democrats took two seats in districts that voted for Trump

Thursday May 25

NATO T̶e̶n̶e̶t̶s Tenants

That gif encapsulates Trump’s time among NATO leaders. While in Brussels, Trump treated his fellow democratic NATO leaders like poor tenants who have neglected to pay rent. After telling autocratic Saudi Arabia “We are not here to lecture,” Trump told NATO leaders the equivalent of “pay up.”

Trump scolded the 23 out of 28 NATO members who are not meeting their 2% GDP contribution to NATO’s mutual defense. Although he is right in his assertions that they are not paying what they have pledged, for him to make this one of the main premises of his speech — after showering human rights violator and regressive autocratic nation Saudi Arabia with praise — was insulting. These are our allies, not enemies. Trump also did not explicitly affirm the US’ commitment to NATO’s core tenet Article 5 (“an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all").

Although this may seem small, Trump is creating subtle cracks in NATO and there is no question that Russian President Vladimir Putin is loving every second of this given his desire to see NATO collapse. Later into the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes her awareness of these cracks known…

This coupled with his praise of Duterte, lack of response to Turkish President Erdogan’s henchmen attacking American protestors in DC, and Tillerson declaring “our values” a non-driver in foreign policy, is cause for concern and makes us question whether the Trump administration values democratic values.

In another noteworthy moment, French President Macron seemed to side-step President Trump and walk up to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

To give further insight into how Macron views Trump, he remarked on his extra long handshake with President Trump. Note the category of leaders that Macron groups Trump into…

“Donald Trump, the Turkish president or the Russian president see relationships in terms of a balance of power, Macron said. “That doesn’t bother me. I don’t believe in diplomacy by public abuse, but in my bilateral dialogues I won’t let anything pass.”

In other news…

  • Axios reported that the White House preparing a “war room” and rounding up a team of legal, communication, and rapid-response experts to handle what they think could be a years-long legal battle of the Trump-Russia investigation
  • A federal appeals court rejected the Trump administration’s effort to reinstate Trump’s Muslim ban. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to appeal it to the Supreme Court
  • Politico reported that Manafort remained in contact with Trump’s team and even advised Priebus on a way to distract from the Trump-Russia investigation

  • A US-led coalition air strike killed 100 people in eastern Syria. 40 of them were children — Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
  • This is when the bombshell hit. After reports last week that a White house official close to Trump was under FBI scrutiny as part of Trump-Russia probe, we got confirmation that it was Trump’s son-in-law, and White House adviser, Jared Kushner. More detail on that in a moment…

Friday May 26

Family Ties

Jared Kushner (Reuters)

Jared Kushner (Reuters)

When the Trump-Russia investigation got to his campaign associates, Trump attempted to distance himself. Now the walls have closed on in his family. Jared Kushner, influential White House adviser and Ivanka Trump’s husband, is under FBI investigation. You can’t get much closer to the President than that. After news broke the previous day that Jared Kushner was under FBI scrutiny in the Trump-Russia investigation, today we gained some more insight into why.

In December, Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn hosted Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a secret meeting at Trump Tower. We’ve all heard about that meeting. What we didn’t know was that in this meeting, Kushner reportedly discussed setting up a secret channel of communication between Russia and the Trump transition team:

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.

This wouldn’t be the first time a Trump associate has tried to set up a back channel of communication with the Kremlin. Erik Prince reportedly “met in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean with a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin” in an effort to set up a back channel of communication between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin. Prince was an informal adviser to the Trump transition team, the founder of private security firm Blackwater, and is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ brother.

Also a topic of interest is Kushner’s December meeting with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov. Gorkov runs VneshEconomBank (VEB), a Russia owned bank that is currently under US sanctions that were put in place in 2014. Gorkov is a FSB academy graduate (essentially a trained spy) and known as a “Putin crony” in the intelligence community. Once VEB was sanctioned, Putin had to authorize $22 Billion in state funding to cover their debts.

This raises some questions. Why would Kushner meet with a Russian bank that was under sanctions? Did he believe they would soon be lifted?

Meanwhile…

President Trump attended the G-7 summit in Sicily. One of the stand out moments came on Saturday. As the world leaders walked the streets, President Trump rode behind them in a golf cart.

On Sunday, while President Trump got back to tweeting about fake news and shared his Trump-Russia paranoia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement that shook the western world: That Europe can no longer rely on the U.S.

Where does the GOP draw the line? Another week, another torrent of incriminating Trump-Russia evidence. More examples mounting of attempts to obstruct justice. And not to mention, the often overlooked ethics violations and conflicts of interests that taint Trump’s every move.

Other than the typical patterns, this week was a bit different. We saw our president take his careless approach to politics to the world stage. As an American, it’s tough to watch our global respect diminish before our eyes. But I still hold on to hope that we will fix this when it’s all over.

The American people’s vigilance will pay off.

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics