A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 185th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

President Trump signed hollow, ineffective, and unconstitutional executive actions after rejecting Democratic efforts to compromise on coronavirus relief.
President Trump signs executive actions on coronavirus at his Bedminster golf club – August 8, 2020. (CSPAN)

President Trump signs executive actions on coronavirus at his Bedminster golf club – August 8, 2020. (CSPAN)

Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic 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 every week of his presidency. This is week 185.

On Saturday, President Trump stood in front of a podium in his Bedminster golf club. Holding this “briefing” there within itself was just as inappropriate as it was the night before. In the audience were members of the media who were hastily assembled and a crowd of club members who pay hundreds of thousands annually to attend this club. It appears access to the President of the United States came with their membership. You can’t be more disconnected from the struggle of Americans than this visual.

It was with this live backdrop of privileged corruption and emoluments clause violations that President Trump signed his executive actions on coronavirus, after which he gave the presidential pens to his aide to hand out to his golf club members. What made this worse was the unconstitutionality of the actions and the fact that they did not do what they alleged to do. Hovering over these actions was the unspoken truth that this was the White House strategy all along. Trump deliberately sabotaged coronavirus relief negotiations so he could take these unconstitutional executive actions and dare Democrats to challenge them so he could falsely claim they oppose coronavirus relief.

Before we talk about these flimsy executive actions, I keep calling them “actions” because only one was an order and the other three were memorandums with less enforcement authority, let’s talk about how we got here. In his Bedminster “briefing,” President Trump said that Democrats were unwilling to negotiate and opposed helping the American people when that is the exact opposite of reality.

In May, Democrats passed the $3 trillion Heroes Act that addressed many of the problems facing Americans right now including an extension on the $600 weekly unemployment benefits, an extension of the federal moratorium on evictions, an increase in student loan debt relief, an increase of funding for states, etc. Going into negotiations in July, Republicans only proposed a $1 trillion bill that cut unemployment benefits to $200 a week and didn’t include much of the relief Democrats were seeking.

Republicans waited until late July to even open up talks on these proposals and never even put the Heroes act up for a vote in the Senate. This week, negotiations between Democrats, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), and the White House, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, heated up. President Trump stayed out of the negotiations but it was clear he was driving the strategy of Mnuchin and Meadows. Pelosi and Schumer dropped their ask by $1 trillion dollars and the White House outright rejected any efforts to compromise while teasing upcoming executive actions. As talks fell apart on Friday, it became clear they never wanted a deal in the first place.

On Saturday, President Trump swept in to create the false appearance he was the hero. The fact of the matter is that many of these executive actions might get hung up in the courts to begin with, and on their face they weren’t very effective. Let’s dive into these smoke and mirror actions, shall we?

Executive memo on unemployment benefits: President Trump signed an executive memorandum that cut unemployment benefits from $600 a month to $400 by pulling money from disaster aid. Congress has the power of the purse so this reallocation of funds sets Trump up for legal challenges. There’s also a catch: Trump required that states have to agree to pay 25% of the benefits in order for any of their residents to receive the funds. The problem is, states are in dire financial positions. Trump is simultaneously opposing Democratic calls to give coronavirus aid money to states while asking states to cover 25% of these costs.

Aside from the fact this executive action is widely seen as unconstitutional, Americans know Democrats fought to continue the $600 a week benefits. Trump cut that to $400. Cutting unemployed Americans’ income by $800 a month in the middle of a pandemic he mishandled doesn’t look as good as Trump thinks it does. Over 30 million Americans are still waiting to receive enhanced unemployment benefits after they expired at the end of July. This executive action does not provide all of them with that.

Executive order on evictions: This was the only executive action President Trump took that was an executive order. While Trump tried to make this appear as if it extended the federal moratorium on evictions and gave rental assistance to renters, it did neither. All it did was direct federal agencies to consider whether it was necessary to further halt evictions. Given the fact up to 40 million Americans could face eviction by October, it’s clearly necessary.

Executive memo on the payroll tax cut: President Trump signed a payroll tax cut that was really a deferment that he promised would be a permanently cut if he’s re-elected. So, in other words, President Trump vowed to permanently cut social security and medicare if he’s re-elected.

Executive memo on student loan relief: President Trump extended the pause on interest and payments for student loans until the end of the year. This does not go as far as the Democratic Heroes Act which extends student loan payment pauses for an additional year and offers $10,000 in debt forgiveness.

Throughout the briefing ahead of the signing, President Trump continued to call these actions “bills,” which further highlighted his authoritarian belief that he can legislate without Congress. These actions do not help the American people in the way a robust piece of legislation coming out of Congress would. People from both sides of the aisle spoke out, aside from Trump sycophants of course.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska called the actions, “unconstitutional slop.” Speaker Pelosi echoed Sasse’s remarks and went further, stating on CNN: “My constitutional advisers tell me they’re absurdly unconstitutional… What the president proposed yesterday at his country club, surrounded by his people that must spend thousands of dollars to join, is something that won’t even work.” So far, Democrats have not indicated they are taking Trump’s bait of a lawsuit.

In 2014, after President Obama signed his DACA executive order, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “Imposing his will unilaterally may seem tempting. It may serve him politically in the short term. But he knows it will make an already broken system even more broken.” Of course, in typical hypocritical fashion, McConnell said he supports President Trump’s executive actions on coronavirus.

Republicans are “constitutional conservatives” until a Republican President violates the Constitution. Republicans are “fiscally conservative” when it comes to the social safety net but carefree when they’re cutting taxes for the rich. The modern GOP are a bunch of hypocrites.

So those are the actions we are left with for now. Of course, negotiations are far from over because Republicans will have no choice but to come back to the table given the dire situation we’re in. Watching Trump’s White House and Republicans play politics with this crucial round of coronavirus relief after they botched the response to the pandemic that got us here in the first place is the height of depravity. It will surely continue to play out in the coming weeks, at the expense of Americans in need.

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In other news this week, there was a massive development. On Monday, we learned that Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s probe is much broader than was publicly known. New court filings indicated that they are probing alleged fraud in the Trump Organization. Remember, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump inflated his assets to insurance companies and lenders and Cohen also alleged Trump may have committed tax fraud. Later in the week, we learned that Vance already subpoenaed Trump’s major lender Deutsche Bank last year and they cooperated.

Aside from him losing the election, the best hope for Trump accountability comes from New York prosecutors. At one of his briefings this week, President Trump was asked about Vance’s criminal probe and Trump falsely called it a “continuation of the witch hunt” and tied to the Mueller probe. The evidence is actually quite substantial and goes beyond Cohen’s testimony.

Another huge development this week was the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) statement about foreign election interference. The statement claimed China and Iran want Trump to lose while Russia wants Trump to win. The wording painted a false equivalence and did not properly weigh the threats. Let’s make this clear: There is no equivalence between Russian active measures—boosting Trump and targeting Biden while actively being aided by Trump, Republican lawmakers, and right-wing media—and anything Iran or China are considering doing. Full stop.

After this statement, the New York Times published the most in-depth depiction of President Trump’s degradation of the Intelligence Comunity thus far. From former Acting DNI Maguire’s watering down of last year’s National Intelligence Estimate’s conclusion that Russia favored Trump to the installment of Trump stooge Ratcliffe to lead ODNI, the politicization of the IC around one man’s ego has been dangerous.

When asked about the ODNI’s statement about how Russia is helping him, President Trump said at one of his briefings that Russia doesn’t want him to win. The reporter pushed back saying the Intelligence Community says otherwise, and Trump said he doesn’t care what anyone says. Trump openly defended Russia again.

Speaking of this, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the bigger moments was when Yates corrected Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) claim that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller found “no evidence” of a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump. That is false. Yates said Mueller did not find *enough* evidence to charge a conspiracy. This was partially due to obstruction. Mueller laid out 100+ pages of Trump team-Russia contacts.

Sally Yates also made the clarification to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that the FISA warrant was placed on Carter Page as he was a former member of the Trump campaign. We’ve all known this but it’s great to hear her tell them directly. The Trump Campaign was not spied on.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s executive actions weren’t the only acts that exuded desperation. A new attack that Trump launched on devout catholic Joe Biden was that he will “hurt” god and the bible if he’s elected and that Biden is against god, guns, and energy. Trump also continued his lies about mail-in voter fraud. But he then backtracked slightly, saying mail-in voting was ok in Florida. Trump was trying to run cleanup after Republicans likely raised alarms that he’s suppressing his own vote by attacking mail-in voting, the main method of voting for Republican seniors in Florida.

In a more robust effort to target mail-in voting, the Trump-appointed  Postmaster General Louis DeJoy continued to erode the US Postal Service (USPS) with mass layoffs. President Trump keeps saying that the USPS won’t be prepared for mail-in voting while his appointee systemically erodes the USPS’s ability to be prepared for mail-in voting. It’s very transparent what he’s doing here.

Other signs of desperation came from strange efforts to boost Kanye West’s candidacy (still a wild phrase of words to write). Fresh off of a mental breakdown, West is continuing his campaign even though he can’t get on the ballot in multiple states due to faulty signatures, this time targeting Wisconsin. We learned that GOP folks are backing Kanye behind the scenes right now and trying to get him on the ballot in several states. It’s very stupid and insulting to the Black community’s intelligence. We will not vote for that man.

This delusional rhetoric was also reflected in Trump’s now-infamous interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan where he downplayed coronavirus deaths. President Trump is clearly an egomaniac unwilling to accept any reality that reflects negatively on him, even when it comes to the deaths of Americans. Aside from his egomania, his dishonesty, his incompetence, his bigotry, his corruption, and his authoritarianism—Trump’s indifference to the mass death of Americans is, within itself, disqualifying for holding any elected office. He genuinely does not care about anyone but himself.

No rational person can watch Trump’s interview with Jonathan Swan and not think Trump is dangerously unfit to lead in any capacity. Unfortunately, a lack of rationality is the other pandemic America is facing right now.

Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.

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Trump Probed For Criminal Fraud

Day 1,292: Monday, August 3

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Monday’s top stories:

The Axios Interview

Day 1,293: Tuesday, August 4

Tuesday’s top stories:

The Deutsche Bank Subpeona

Day 1,294: Wednesday, August 5

President Donald Trump, May 30, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump, May 30, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Wednesday’s top stories:

The NRA Faces Accountability

Day 1,295: Thursday, August 6

New York Attorney General Letitia James (Photo: Official NYC Council/William Alatriste)

New York Attorney General Letitia James (Photo: Official NYC Council/William Alatriste)

Thursday’s top stories:

Trump Issues Unconstitutional, Flimsy Executive Actions

Day 1,296: Friday, August 7 – Saturday, August 8

Top stories:

Rantt Media and ZipRecruiter

Unpresidented // Authoritarianism / Congress / Coronavirus / Democratic Party / Donald Trump / Executive Power / Republican Party / USPS