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Trump Signs 40 Trade Agreements with Saudis

I have my doubts Donald Trump can even read 40 documents, but in Saudi Arabia, he signed the United States' name to them anyway. We're now a party to 40 economic agreements totaling $350 billion , (or $280 billion,depending on which press release you read) most of which, from what I can tell, create jobs for the Saudis in Saudi Arabia, give them a huge amount of war toys and line the pockets of the shareholders of companies like Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin and General Electric.

The Saudi Official News page for the economic summit couldn't be more different than the spin Donald Trump is putting out. Examples: [More...]

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Ivanka Subs for Pops at Saudi Twitter Forum

Ivanka Trump took her father's place at a Saudi evening Twitter forum on social media. (He was a no-show, no explanation given.)

There she talked about the 'great Saudi entrepreneurs' she had met throughout the day and marveled that the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology was built in just 30 days.

'That is entrepreneurialism,' she cheered. 'And I may need to borrow those contractors for our next construction project, maybe infrastructure, it was incredibly impressive and the message was very meaningful.'

"Our new construction project?" I thought she had resigned her position with Trump Org., leaving the running of it to her brothers. [More..]

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Senior Advisor Close to Trump is Subject of Russia Probe

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced tonight that James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a public session. This will happen after Memorial Day.

The New York Times reports Donald Trump called James Comey a "nut job" during his meeting with Russian officials the day after he fired Comey. Trump also reportedly said by firing Comey, the pressure was off him.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

[More...]

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Trump Middle Eastern (Mis) Adventures Set to Begin

Fasten your seatbelts, Trump and his relatives are about to embark a tour of the Middle East. It goes without saying, almost everything he does will bring a groan or an eye roll and be great fodder for late night talk shows, but what how much damage can he do with the deals he intending on committing us to?

Trump is not the first U.S. President to visit Saudi Arabia. Richard Nixon went there in June, 1974. While there he made an economic "deal with the devil" --oil for dollars. Here's his speech. Nixon resigned less than two months later, and we're still stuck with his deal. Here's the untold story, according to Bloomberg News.

The first clue that this visit will be bad news for the U.S. economically is how excited Saudi Arabia is about Trump's visit. It has set up this website to track events. It sounds like the counter-terror aspect is a front for the trips real purpose: economic advantages Trump is offering these countries. From a Saudi press release today: [More....]

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How to Brief Trump on National Security

Reuters, in an article on Donald Trump's upcoming first foreign trip, reports:

Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span. He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump's name in "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned," according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials. (my emphasis).

Why am I not surprised?

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Republicans: Abandon Trump or Sink With Him

In the Atlantic: The Week the Trump [Administration] Fell Apart (I still won't print the P word with Trump.)

Further developments yesterday: James Comey took notes.

Israel reportedly managed to infiltrate ISIS and learn of its laptop bomb plan, and now its spy is at risk.

The Washington Post reports Trump met with Russian officials and their photographer at the White House as a favor to Vladimir Putin. [More...]

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MotorMouth of the Oval Office

On Sirius this afternoon, driving back from the jail, CNN's host and guests were practically hyper-ventilating over the latest report in the Washington Post that Trump leaked information about ISIS to Russia that was so sensitive the U.S. had not even shared it with its allies.

CNN said the White House put out a denial that didn't address the substance of the WaPO report, but instead denied things that weren't alleged. There was some doubt expressed as to whether a statement the White House released in Tillerson's name even knew about it before hand, as none of the high up officials in the State Dept. that CNN reporters talked to seemed to know about it in advance. [More...]

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Trump and Pence: The Unraveling Begins

Donald Trump tells NBC's Lester Holt he decided to fire Comey before asking for Rosenstein's report.

"I was going to fire Comey-- my decision. There is no good time to do it, by the way," Trump told NBC News’s Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation."

This contradicts Trump's firing letter which said he was acting at the recommendation of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein in firing Comey.

His staff said several times he talked to Sessions and Rosenstein about Comey on Monday and decided to fire him Tuesday based on their recommendation. [More...]

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Trump's Poll Numbers Decline Further

Donald Trump's approval rating keeps on slipping. A new Quinnipiac University national poll released today (and conducted before Comey's firing)reports a 58 percent job disappproval rating. His approval rating is 36%.

Among the big losses: "white voters with no college degree, white men and independent voters."

  • 66% believe he is not level-headed
  • 64% believe he does not share their values
  • 61% believe he is not honest.
  • 59% believe he doesn't care about average Americans.

[More...]

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Comey, Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein

The firing of James Comey is still big in the news. Here's some things reported today.

The New York Times reports just days ago Comey sought more money to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election. The request was made to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. A DOJ spokesperson denies it.

The new acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, according to this March 28, 2017 letter from Republican Senator Charles Grassley to Comey says McCabe is the subject of an OIG investigation. [More...]

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Trump Fires James Comey

I'm a little late to the news but Donald Trump fired James Comey.

How did it happen? Apparently

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein made the case for it, Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed, and President Trump ultimately pulled the trigger.

Here are the termination letters.

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Congress Agrees on Funding Bill Through September

Democrats and Republicans in Congress reached an agreement for a $1 trillion funding authorization that will keep the Government running until September. The agreement covers funds for the remainder of the 2017 budget year, until October 1, 2017, when the 2018 budget kicks in. What's in it and what's not:

  • No money for Trump's border wall
  • $61 million to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for the cost of protecting Trump's trips to his homes in Florida and New York
  • $1.5 billion for border security measures including additional detention beds.
  • $15 billion "down payment" on defense
  • No language on withholding grant money from "sanctuary cities"
  • No defunding of Planned Parenthood
  • No cuts for "medical research and infrastructure grants."
  • $295 million to help Puerto Rico continue making payments to Medicaid,
  • $100  million to combat opioid addiction.

The entire 1,665 page document is available here. [More...]

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Trump Administration's Inconsistent Views of Humanitarian Treatment

The agencies in Donald Trump's Administration continue to resemble a kid who leaves for school looking like he was dressed by different mothers.

The latest example: ICE jails a Venezuelan intending to detain him pending a final order of removal (deportation) even though he was tortured in a Venezuelan prison for opposition to the government and has a pending petition for asylum, while the State Department asks Venezuela to return an American jailed there and awaiting trial on weapons charges, citing humanitarian concerns.

Why is it okay for the U.S. to deport someone to Venezuela where they have been tortured in the past and likely will be in the future, but it is not okay for Venezuela to jail an American it believes has committed a serious crime? Apparently, in a Trump administration, humanitarian grounds only apply to Americans. The backstory: [More....]

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Trump's Appointments Not Keeping Pace

The Washington Post reports Trump is not nominating people to important positions:

The Senate has confirmed 26 of Trump’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts. But for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation, [Trump] has advanced just 37 nominees, according to data tracked by The Washington Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition.

Despite Trump's camp's attempt to spin this into how rigorous their requirements are, I don't take this as a sign Trump is not offering people jobs. I take it as an indicator that his overtures are being rejected because no one wants to work for his Administration.

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Trump's Latest Whoppers

Biggest lie of the weekend by the Trump Administration: Chief of staff, Reince Priebus on Meet the Press (according to the New York Times):

“We expect a massive increase in military spending. We expect money for border security in this bill....And it ought to be. Because the president won overwhelmingly. And everyone understands the border wall was part of it.” (my emphasis)

More than 10 million people voted for Trump's opponents than voted for him. I'd say that's an overall rejection, not an endorsement, for his positions on issues. [More...]

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