It is literally impossible to stay on top of the news coming out of this administration. I’m only getting further and further behind…you’re not going to find any breaking news here.
This update is essentially just a lot of reading about, well, the Swamp that is Washington D.C. in February 2017. Still didn’t even get to Michael Flynn & Trump’s Russia connections; that will be the next update.
Without further ado:
“While Trump has promised he will observe a separation between his business and the presidency, he retains ownership of the business and will personally benefit if the business profits from decisions made by his government.
Further, the business will be run by family members who remain the most trusted members of Trump’s inner circle, raising questions about whether Trump’s promises to limit communication about the business’s fate are realistic.”
- Melania Trump Is Hoping to Profit From Her ‘Multi-Year Term’ in the Public Eye, Court Documents Show
Richard Painter, who advised former President George W. Bush on ethics, said the language in the lawsuit shows Melania Trump is engaging “in an unprecedented, clear breach of rules about using her government position for private gain. This is a very serious situation where she says she intends to make a lot of money. That ought to be repudiated by the White House or investigated by Congress.”
- Trump family’s lavish lifestyle could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions over 4 years, pair with Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills, Trump family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare,’ and Footing the bill for Trumps
“Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have likely cost the federal treasury roughly $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.
Palm Beach County officials plan to ask Washington to reimburse tens of thousands of dollars a day in expenses for deputies handling added security and traffic issues around the cramped Florida island whenever Trump is in town.
In New York, the city is paying $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower, according to police officials’ estimates, an amount that could reach $183 million a year.
Earlier this month, The Post reported that Secret Service and U.S. embassy staff paid nearly $100,000 in hotel-room bills to support Eric Trump’s trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay.”
Monthly cost of:
- Guarding Trump Tower: $30 million/month [to be fair, this figure was tallied before the inauguration; some estimates I’ve seen post-inaguration, including one I linked to earlier in this update, are closer to $15 million/month]
- Section 8 for all 15,856 homeless NYC families: $28 million/month
- Whoever own Mar-a-Lago is a lucky man, he must be getting such a windfall from having Trump visit every weekend!
…wait a second…
ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s all making sense to me now.
- Trump Turns Mar-a-Lago Club terrace into open-air situation room; pair with Trump handling of security information at Mar-a-Lago queried by House panel
“Reports and social media accounts have suggested White House staff used their own cell phones to provide illumination for reviewing documents,” Chaffetz said in a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. “Separately, one Mar-a-Lago guest posted to his Facebook page a photograph with a man described to be the holder of the ‘nuclear football,'” he added.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised: NM Senator Martin Heinrich points out that Trump already failed Classified 101.
“Swanning through the club’s living room and main dining area alongside Abe, Trump was — as is now typical — swarmed with paying members, who now view dinner at the club as an opportunity for a few seconds of face time with the new President.” [*cough* KLEPTOCRACY *cough*]
“…On Saturday night, the patio was lit only with candles and moonlight, so aides used the camera lights on their phones to help the stone-faced Trump and Abe read through the documents.” [Note for the uninformed: this is, uh, definitely not best practices re: information security]
- Donald Trump’s Feud With Nordstrom Sparks Warnings From Ethics Experts
“But ethics experts say the broader conflict between the White House and Nordstrom is more worrisome, raising questions about whether the United States is entering a new environment in which presidents use government to steer money to their inner circles. Around the globe, and especially in developing countries with weak government institutions, leaders frequently become enmeshed in scandals for allegedly mixing personal business with their public duties. Many cases involve friends or relatives who use official ties to land sweetheart deals. …The White House response drew heavy criticism from ethics watchdogs, who complained that the president appeared to be intimidating a private business to pad a family member’s profits.”
“I think most people can relate to the fact that a father, a doting father with very successful children, is going to look after those children and, you know, if he sees something going wrong, he’s going to call it out,” Chaffetz told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Your House Oversight Committee Chairman, ladies and gentlemen!
“The Office of Government Ethics is recommending that the White House take disciplinary action against Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Trump, for endorsing Ivanka Trump’s products in a TV interview.”
- “A new House rule is a gift to lawmakers trying to hide criminal acts”
“Republican congressmen led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) quietly succeeded on another dubious ethical front: They adopted a rule designating records created, generated or received by a member’s congressional office “exclusively the personal property” of that member and granting members “control over such records.” … This rule change also represents yet another example of Congress exempting itself from the same record and accountability system that governs the executive branch. Congress is not subject to either the Freedom of Information Act or Federal Records Act. Although the Center for Legislative Archives houses records of historic value of the House and Senate, the records remain the legal property of the House and Senate. Now, by making the records of congressional offices the personal property of members, the House has ensured that none of these records will be available for posterity. How ironic that Republican-controlled congressional committees have relied on statutes such as FOIA and the Federal Records Act to fault the practices of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, yet members have cloaked themselves in an impenetrable secrecy that allows them to escape public accountability.”
- Remarks by President Trump in Strategy and Policy Forum [in which the President admits to making policy decisions that benefit his friends]
“But we expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because, frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money, they just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank.”
- Department of Defense looks to rent space in Trump Tower, pair with Why the Defense Department Is Looking to Lease Space in Trump Tower
[In his first 11 days], Trump has been named in 42 federal lawsuits since his inauguration. By comparison, former President Barack Obama was named in 11 suits during his first 11 days in office — some of them involving the long-debunked “birther” claims that Obama was not an American citizen.
- When Trump Tweets, This Bot Makes Money, pair with American companies are bracing for a new kind of “natural disaster”: a mean tweet from Donald Trump
“Of the eight DC firms Quartz spoke to this month, all were discussing crisis plans with clients to deal with a negative Trump tweet. Several were in the midst of formalizing packages as a kind of insurance plan. One global strategy firm told Quartz it had issued a company-wide directive saying that Trump’s tweets should be treated the same way as an earthquake or flood. “We are putting them in the same class as a natural disaster: a random event, out of the blue, with a really massive cleanup,” said a senior consultant.”
- The Trump White House continues to display its incompetence
- The White House phone sheet called Turnbull “President of Australia” (Australia has a Prime Minister)
- Former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon: “Only a very weak POTUS allows an aide to secretly self promote and go where no political aide has ever been: Bannon’s permanent NSC seat”
- Trump’s list of terror attacks contains multiple misspellings
- Trump reportedly called his national security adviser at 3 a.m. to ask if the US wanted a strong or weak dollar
- According to the White House schedule, Trump’s twitter rant about Nordstrom & Ivanka occurred 20 minutes into his daily intelligence briefing
- Trump paused a call with Putin to make an aide explain a nuclear arms treaty
- Evan McMullin: “For all his self-promotion, President Trump plainly demonstrates his incompetence and malice”
- Meanwhile, Trump continues to be gross:
- Trump gets laughs when he offers to ‘destroy’ a Texas state senator’s career
- Administration plays politics with death of Navy SEAL while falsely accusing others of doing so
- White House rattled by McCarthy’s spoof of Spicer “More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him.” *cough* MISOGYNY *cough*
- Al Franken to Maher: GOP senators privately express ‘great concern about Trump’s temperament’
- China Grants Trump A Valuable Trademark Registration
China provisionally granted approval for the construction-services trademark on Nov. 13, just days after Trump had won the U.S. presidential election. Interested parties had three months, until Feb. 14th, to dispute the decision. With that deadline now expired, the Trump name registration can go forward. Kathleen Clark, a government ethics professor at Washington University in St. Louis, says foreign trademarks present both a conflict of interest for Trump and breach of the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution. That clause prevents the president from receiving gifts and other payments from foreign governments. Clark says Beijing’s power to offer Trump the valuable name-rights approval he wants is something the president may have in his mind when making policy decisions involving China.
On Wednesday, former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler provided some insight into the reaction of national security officials.
“Now we go nuclear,” he wrote on Twitter. “[Intelligence community] war going to new levels. Just got an [email from] senior [intelligence community] friend, it began: ‘He will die in jail.’”
“US intelligence is not the problem here,” Schindler added in another tweet. “The President’s collusion with Russian intelligence is. Many details, but the essence is simple.”
- Pair with this commentary, Extremely Dangerous Ground, from talkingpointsmemo:
“The prospect of the country’s intelligence apparatus working against rather than for an elected President is an incredibly dangerous one. We even have a report from the Wall Street Journal from last night which says that the Intelligence Community is withholding some information from the President and his top aides for fear it might be leaked to hostile powers. It’s important to note some of the conversation around this article which notes that the bright line of sharing and not sharing isn’t necessarily that bright. Some level of detail about sources and methods may necessarily be cleaved aside simply with the request that something like the President’s Daily Brief be limited to a single page with no more than 9 bullet points. But, the point here is clear: at least according to this article, people at high levels of the intelligence community suspect the President might be compromised, either knowingly or not, by agents of a hostile foreign power. That belief is dangerous whether the underlying fact is true or not, just dangerous in different ways.” [emphasis mine]
- Trump’s Watered-Down Ethics Rules Let a Lobbyist Help Run an Agency He Lobbied
- Executive order on ethics also cites a section of the law that doesn’t exist
“Ethics lawyers are now puzzling over what exactly that language means.
That task is made more confusing because of an apparent error in the Trump executive order: It says the phrase “particular matter” has the “same meaning as set forth in section 207 of title 28, United States Code.”
That part of the U.S. code does not exist.”
- Jared Kushner met with Time Warner to express Trump’s “deep concerns” about CNN…and at a time when Time Warner has a merger before the federal government (raising some questions about governmental pressure on media coverage)
- Kellyanne Conway
- ‘Morning Joe’ has blacklisted Kellyanne Conway
- She made up a fake terrorist attack in an interview on MSNBC
- Media is starting to call her out:
- Tom Price: Secretary of Health & Human Services has pushed, and crossed, ethical boundaries to make money
- Stephen Miller
WH Sr. Policy Adviser Stephen Miller: “The powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned” pic.twitter.com/sn3GyFATPD
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 12, 2017
- Jeff Sessions: White Supremacist [former KKK Grand Wizard] David Duke Celebrates Appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
- Steve Bannon
- Donald Trump and Steve Bannon’s coup in the making
- Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon and the Coming Crisis in American National Life
- Trump aide says on NPR that Bannon’s experience crushing “left-wing rivals” on Breitbart partially qualifies him for National Security Council
- in other words, admitting Bannon has value to the NSC as a partisan (at minimum; one can argue Breitbart runs more towards the propagandist/conspiracist side of things)…the NSC is supposed to be nonpartisan
- Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican
- Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists
- Bannon in Washington: A Report on the Incompetence of Evil
- White House counsel: The Spotlight Will Now Shift to the White House Counsel