Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 28: Trump’s Bogus Journey

May 29, 2017 – Day 200 Post Election

The TrumpShaker Top Three
May 28, 2017 – National Brisket Day – Day 200 P.E (Post Election).
As The Tяump Family Turns
The week began with former CIA Director John Brennan noting ominously and presciently (ompresciently?) in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not realize they are on [that] path until it’s too late.”
 
The week ended with a scoop from The Washington Post that Trump’s Adviser/Son-in-Law Jared Kushner told the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, in December, that he wanted a secret communications channel with the Kremlin. Not just any backdoor channel, but one using Russian equipment and facilities to avoid detection by the U.S. intelligence communities.
 
Former intelligence officials have said that this is tantamount to treason. Republicans have rallied around the defense that “it’s a good thing to have a back-channel to Russia, like Robert F. Kennedy did during the Cold War” (but you know, that channel was not using Russian equipment). This is I’m sure the same reaction the Republicans would have had if Chelsea Clinton’s husband tried to set up a secret communication channel with Russia.
 
This new revelation may explain why Kushner “mistakenly” omitted from his SF-86 security clearance form his meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower. If the omission was intentional, it would be a federal crime. Oh and guess what, Attorney General Jefferson Sessions omitted his meetings Kislyak on his SF-86 form as well.
 
Now we know that Trump’s team met with the Russians during the campaign and the transition. They were possibly willing to commit a felony to cover it up. But why? That shoe of Damocles hanging over the administration has yet to drop.
Big Slam Country
On Thursday, Democrat Rob Quist lost a special election for Montana’s sole seat in the House of Representatives to Republican Greg Gianforte by 6 percentage points, which improved on Hillary’s 20 point loss to Trump in that state last November.

The night before the election, Gianforte assaulted reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian in Gianforte’s office. Fox News reporter, Alicia Acuna, who was present, said that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.”

Gianforte issued a statement that the “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene.” The witnesses and the audiotape tell clearly a different story. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault.

A candidate winning after beating a reporter, lying about it, and being arrested is troubling. More troubling though was the reaction to all of it. Instead of condemning, many tacitly or explicitly endorsed the violence. Vice President Pence, who supported and campaigned for Gianforte, would not comment. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) blamed liberal society, saying that “the left has precipitated this tense, confrontational approach throughout the country.” Fox News, despite having their own reporters witness the incident, did not put them on air. Instead Fox ran with Gianforte’s false statement. NBC’s Montana affiliate, acquired last month by conservative media company Sinclair Broadcast Group refused initially to cover the altercation on its local news. Lastly, Gianforte received $100,000 in online donations in the 24 hours following the assault.

Trump’s Bogus Journey

Trump traveled the world this week in search of new ways to embarrass us. By that measure, it was a tremendous success!  A quick rundown of Trump’s world tour:

  • The trip kicked off in Saudi Arabia where Jared Kushner bragged about personally intervening to save Saudi Arabia money on an arms purchase from a U.S. company. America second?
  • Ivanka received $100 million from Saudi Arabia and the UAE for her proposed Women Entrepreneurs Fund. Remember when Trump hammered Hillary Clinton during the campaign for the Clinton Foundation taking money from Saudi Arabia while she was Secretary of State,
  • Trump may have consulted a mystical orb (pictured).
  • Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was very impressed that there was not a single protest in Saudi Arabia. FYI – protesting is basically illegal in Saudi Arabia.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a press conference with foreign media, but didn’t alert the traveling U.S. media.
  • After Saudi Arabia, Trump kicked off his first statement in Israel by noting that he “just got back from the Middle East.” Saudi Arabia’s border is 10 miles from Israel. Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. was caught on camera smirking and squirming in reaction to Trump’s comment.
  • Trump awkwardly outed Israel as the source of the intelligence that Trump had shared with the Russians in the Oval Office two weeks ago.
  • At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, Trump wrote “It is a great honor to be here with all my friends. So Amazing and Will Never Forget!” in the guestbook. Apparently he didn’t have time to write “Have a bitchin’ summer, K.I.T.!” Here is Obama’s message for comparison.
  • Next up was the big NATO summit. In his speech, he did not endorse Article 5 (mutual aid) and harangued NATO states for not meeting their 2% defense spending targets. NATO countries viewed this as putting formerly unquestioned American defense of Europe in doubt. Former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) called the speech, “Probably the single most destructive act . . . in the history of the alliance.”  Wall Street Journal reporter Eli Stoklas tweeted, “Just got this text from GOP natsec official: Had to apologize to a European defense attaché just now. ‘I’m sorry. He’s an idiot.’”
  • Trump  literally pushed around NATO, shoving the Prime Minister from Montenegro to get in front of the line for a photo op.
  • Trump said, “The Germans are evil, very evil. Look at the millions of cars they sell in the U.S., and we’ll stop that. Plus remember what they did to Indiana Jones?” He didn’t say the last sentence, at least out loud. By the way, German car companies are the biggest exporter, by value, of carsfrom the U.S.
  • Trump told French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron that “You were my guy.” In other words he blatantly lied, as Trump was openly pushing for Macron’s opponent, Marine LePen. Trump also lost in a white-knuckle handshake showdown with Macron.
  • After NATO, Trump attended the G7 summit (Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Japan, and the United States). Trump would not say if he would honor the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. “The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • Trump referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “Justin from Canada.”
  • As if desperately wanting to create a visual metaphor for the place of the United States in the world under Trump, when the leaders of the six other G7 countries strolled the streets of Taormina, Italy, Trump followed behind them in a golf cart.
  • Trump found the trip to be unbelievably successful. Here is another view this morning from German Chancellor Merkel, “We can’t rely on the US anymore. I have experienced this in the last days. We Europeans should take destiny in our own hands.”
MONUMENTAL SPEECH
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s powerful words, reflecting on his city’s removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces this week, are below. While New Orleans confronted these painful reminders head-on, much of Dixie continues to look away. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed legislation this week to prevent cities and counties from removing Confederate monuments on their own.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.
Quick TrumpShakes
This is Not a Mundane Detail, Mulvaney – The Trump Administration released his proposed budget this past week. It makes drastic cuts in the social safety net, e.g., housing assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid. It also takes aim at much of the infrastructure that keeps us healthy and safe, e.g. the National Institute of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and the State Department. The good news is that this budget is, according to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), “dead on arrival.”  The most troubling thing might be that the administration is not competent enough to put together a budget without using underpants gnomes math. The budget assumes cutting taxes will lead to growth that will not only cover $2 trillion lost revenue from the tax cuts, but will on top of that add another $2 trillion in revenue from growth. So they are either double counting the already improbable $2 trillion in revenue growth or they are saying that by cutting revenue by $2 trillion, the United States will actually increase revenue by $4 trillion. Genius, it can’t be that easy!

Okay, GOP, Now You’re Really Pushing It – In a seemingly never ending search to align themselves with the least liked people in the country, the GOP is now supporting a (Republican-dominated) Federal Communications Commission proposal to allow telemarketers to just leave messages on your voicemail without ever causing your phone to ring. There were near riots when Apple gave people a free U2 album without asking. This should work out great.

Free Your Mind, Betsy and the Rest Will Follow – At a budget hearing this week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was pressed to see if her department, responsible for protecting students from discrimination would actually, you know, protect students from discrimination. DeVos stood so steadfastbehind the “states know best” argument, that a back and forth with Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) concluded with Clark saying, “I am shocked that you can cannot come up with one example of discrimination that you would stand up for students.”

Not Guilty. Overruled! -This week’s dispatch from our broken judicial system comes from Georgia where a 24-year-old African American man, Ramad Chatman, was found not guilty of robbing a convenience store by a jury. The judge disagreed with the verdict and so left Chatman in prison for up to seven years for violating his probation. What was the parole violation? That same convenience store robbery for which he was just found not guilty. The judge couldn’t sentence him for the robbery, so instead he sentenced him for a parole violation for a crime a jury said he didn’t commit.

You’re Unbelievable – The transcript from a call between Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was released this week. Trump praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” As a reminder, the “job” Duterte is doing is encouraging his police to murder thousands in extrajudicial killings and telling his soldiers, allegedly jokingly, that under the martial law he has declared that “if you rape three (women), I will say that I did it.” Oh, and don’t worry, when not betraying American values, Trump did find time to release classified information on the call, letting Duterte know that the U.S. has two nuclear submarines in the waters off of North Korea.

Not Just a River in Egypt – In a new Quinnipiac poll on whether Trump is honest, 59% said no. However, when we look behind the curtain, we see that there are two realities in America. Democrats answered 6% Yes and 91% No, Independents responded 34% Yes and 59% No, and from the Upside Down world, 79% of Republicans responded Yes and only 16% No.

Ix Nay on the Picersay – Sorry, that’s the only Latin I know. Likely as a punishment for hiding in the bushes last week, Trump did not extend an invitation to join the administration’s audience with the Pope to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, a devout Catholic. Excluding Spicer was so harsh that even the travelling media felt sorry for Spicer.

In a Carson State of Mind – Evidently a student of the work of Randolph and Mortimer Duke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said this week, “I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.”

Prognosis Negative – On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the Republican health care “plan”, AHCA. The lowlights include taking health care away from 23 million people, cutting Medicaid and health care subsidy programs by $1.1 trillion, and increasing the premiums of a 64-year-old, who makes $26,500, by up to 900%. All of this to cut taxes for the very rich by $900 billion. The Senate is writing its own version in secret. The latest from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is that the path to 50 votes is not clear. While the Senate is on recess this week, let your senator know that you will not stand for taking health care from millions and eliminating protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Fear, Fear for Your Lives – As a friendly reminder that you should live in fear and surrender any civil liberties the government asks for, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly stopped by Fox & Friends this week to say, “I was telling [Fox News host] Steve [Doocy] on the way in here, if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning.”

Featured Articles of the Week

In a New York Times opinion piece, Monica Lewinsky reflects on how Roger Ailes made her life a living nightmare.

If you need another reason to dislike Jared Kushner, it turns out he’s a slumlord. ProPublicainvestigates “The Beleaguered Tenants of Kushnerville“.

Action Center
Taking the Country Back State by State
Forward Majority is a new organization dedicated to winning back state legislatures for Democrats before the 2020 census and subsequent redistricting occurs. Currently, Democrats control only 13 state legislatures, down from 27 in 2009. I had a chance to attend a Forward Majority information session this past week and was impressed with their plans and passion. Check out Forward Majority!
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