A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 104th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

The government shutdown continued as questions surrounding President Trump’s corruption and the need for impeachment hit a fever pitch.

President Donald Trump listens during an event on immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Friday, June 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump listens during an event on immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Friday, June 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is a personification of his administration: An impulsive, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight. After Trump was sworn in, I started writing the weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing his every move. This is week 104.

As we enter Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the longest government shutdown in American history is set to hit its one month mark.

800,000 people are without pay. Many have been ordered to return to work anyway. Their families are being affected. Contractors who do business with the government are being affected. Local businesses in areas where the federal government is a top employer are being affected. And at the macro-level, the U.S. economy is slowing in growth.

President Trump continued his fear-mongering claim that there is a national security crisis at the border, while his shutdown leaves many TSA and border patrol agents without pay. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Democrats, continued to pass spending bills to no avail, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continued his refusal to take them up for a vote.

By the end of the week, President Trump offered a deal to resolve the government shutdown. What the White House presented as a good faith effort to compromise, was actually a demand for a border wall in exchange for the renewal of programs that Trump ended and courts either put on hold or ruled he couldn’t end (TPS and DACA protections).

Meanwhile, this week was consumed with Russia-related stories. The nation grappled with the news of the FBI-launched counterintelligence investigation into whether or not President Trump is a Russian asset and his efforts to prevent even his own team from knowing what he and Russian President Vladimir Putin privately spoke about.

But the story by far that had the potential to be the most consequential, if true, was BuzzFeed’s bombshell report alleging President Trump directed his former fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. As Democrats were calling for investigations and potential impeachment, Special Counsel Mueller’s office disputed parts of the report. BuzzFeed still stands by their reporting and The Washington Post later reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was disputing the characterization of the evidence. We’re still not sure if the central assertion is true or false (will break down all the theories of what Mueller’s statement means later in this article).

This week left Americans with more questions than answers. When will the government shutdown end? Is the President of the United States really working on behalf of Russia? Is Donald Trump guilty of an impeachable act of obstruction of justice? Is the BuzzFeed report true?

Regardless of the answers to those questions, a few things are clear: President Donald Trump is wannabe authoritarian who is implicated in two campaign finance felonies, makes decisions that align with Putin’s objectives, tries to obstruct the Mueller probe, lies to the American people, attacks the media, rolls back civil rights, threatens Earth’s climate, profits from the presidency, and separated migrant families. No matter the outcome of these various questions, Donald Trump is still the most corrupt and unfit president in US history.

House Democrats should act accordingly.

This comprehensive column sources great reporting from top news organizations, but it’s also built on brilliant analysis from my team at Rantt Media. If you like the work we do, please consider supporting us by making a one-time donation or signing up for a monthly subscription.


Is President Trump A Russian Asset?

Day 723-724: Saturday-Sunday, January 12-13

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump give a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump give a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Over the weekend, the government shutdown became the longest in American history and we received even more evidence that Donald Trump may be a Russian asset. On Friday, The New York Times reported that the FBI was so concerned by Trump’s conduct in the days surrounding his firing of FBI Director James Comey, they opened up an inquiry into whether he was working on behalf of the Russian government and posed a national security threat. Special Counsel Robert Mueller took it over. And on Saturday, there was another damning report.

As we know, President Trump’s appearance at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin was an embarrassing capitulation to a foreign adversary.  What we don’t know is what was said in the private meeting they had behind closed doors. And we also don’t know what happened in their previous meeting in 2017. Well, a new report from The Washington Post gives us insight into the lengths Trump went to hide what they discussed:

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

House Democrats responded by exploring the possibility of seeking the testimony of the interpreter.

President Trump responded to the two days of damning reports in a series of tweets that did not help his case.

In other news…

Why Does President Trump Hate NATO?

Day 725: Monday, January 14

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, both gesture during their bilateral breakfast, Wednesday July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, both gesture during their bilateral breakfast, Wednesday July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

On Monday, The New York Times published another report that revealed exactly how much President Trump has been eager to weaken western alliances:

There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

Anyone who knows their history is aware that the post-WWII order was crafted by the United States. NATO was founded 70 years ago to promote the shared values of democracy and uphold the common security of the West. America’s disproportionate investments in NATO yield dividends in American dominance. Not to mention an alliance that has come to America’s defense (see Article 5’s invocation after 9/11). The peaceful Europe of today is the result of decades of U.S. leadership, which President Trump is seemingly trying to destroy. Either Trump’s transactional worldview is incapable of seeing that or he’s doing Putin’s bidding. Or both.

In other news…

  • New details were reported about why the counterintelligence probe was opened into President Trump.

Day One Of William Barr’s Confirmation

Day 726: Tuesday, January 15

William Barr’s confirmation hearing for Attorney General was filled with moments like that. On Tuesday, Barr was questioned by members of the Senate Judiciary committee. Many of the questions understandably focused on how he would handle overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Barr cited his decades-long friendship with Mueller and defended the memo he sent to the DOJ that questioned the case against Trump for obstruction of justice. Barr said he would refuse to fire Mueller without cause but did not make clear whether he would make the Mueller report public. Barr also had a hard time answering a question about the Emoluments Clause and was grilled by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Trump’s border wall.

One exchange in particular with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) became more newsworthy later in the week, but more on that in a bit.

In other news…

The Effects Of The Government Shutdown

Day 727: Wednesday, January 16

On Wednesday, it became even clearer that Trump’s government shutdown was having broad economic impacts. It’s reducing economic growth, reducing consumer sentiment, and caused broader uncertainty. 800,000 federal workers are going without pay, and President Trump’s order for even more to return to work without pay wasn’t doing anything to increase morale.

As it continues, the impact of the shutdown is seeping into pop culture as Cardi B posted a viral video condemning President Trump’s handling of the shutdown.

In other news…

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Day 728: Thursday, January 17

President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (AP)

President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (AP)

On Thursday, Trump’s shutdown began to hit himself. Rantt Foreign Affairs Editor Jossif Ezekilov reported:

President Trump canceled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to visit troops in Afghanistan today, in an apparent petty response to her calls to delay his State of the Union address due to the shutdown. Trips to visit troops are an important task for Congresspeople, especially when the President is calling for major withdrawals in major military combat zones.

Trump’s refusal to end the shutdown has made him that much more hated by the American people. His approval rating has dropped to 39 percent, while his disapproval rating has risen to 53 percent. Crucially, several key parts of his base are beginning to sour on him:

In other news…

BuzzFeed’s Bombshell Blowup

Day 729: Friday, January 18

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party in New York on September 19, 2007 (Mark Von Holden/WireImage). Michael Cohen Crop (AP).

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party in New York on September 19, 2007 (Mark Von Holden/WireImage). Michael Cohen Crop (AP).

Friday was consumed with coverage of Thursday night’s bombshell report. As Rantt’s Tai Ragan reported:

A bombshell report from BuzzFeed News sent shockwaves through the political world late Thursday night. Sources familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation claim that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the timeline of the Trump Tower Moscow Project he worked on with Felix Sater. Cohen also updated Donald Trump on his efforts to set up a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and kept Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in the loop every step of the Moscow Project. Backing up this claim is the testimony of Michael Cohen himself who has been cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office as well as agreeing to testify publicly before Congress in early February. In addition files, emails and texts recovered during the raid of Cohen’s office corroborate this claim, according to BuzzFeed’s sources.

Democrats reacted to this news with strong words and promises to get to the bottom of this:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA-23)

House Judiciary Committee Member David Cicilline ‏(D-RI-1)

House Judiciary Committee Member Ted Lieu (D-CA-33)

House Intelligence Committee Member Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15)

House Intelligence Committee Member Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20)

Then, on Friday night, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office released a rare statement disputing BuzzFeed’s story.

Buzzfeed subsequently stood by their reporting in a statement that night and claimed they reconfirmed their reporting the following morning.

This sparked a frenzy of speculation given the careful wording of the Special Counsel’s statement. Theories ranged from the sourcing being from the Southern District of New York to Mueller having issues with specific characterizations of corroborating evidence.

As we wait to see how this will play out, the best likely explanation comes from Macy Wheeler. We also got more details from The Washington Post.

President Trump and his allies pounced on this in bad faith.

In other news…

  • President Trump participated in some more witness intimidation.

  • Over the weekend, President Trump presented a new offer to re-open the government.

About that…

Democrats say no deal.

The shutdown continues.

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Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Immigration / Russia