Feb. 8: For the first time in US history, the vice president was required to break a tie in the Senate over the confirmation of cabinet nominee. In the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, to be the nation’s top education official, only two Republican senators broke ranks. DeVos, from a billionaire family that has contributed millions to right wing religious causes and political candidates, never attended a public school, has no professional qualifications as a public educator, and never sent her children to a public school. At a WH meeting of county sheriffs, after hearing about a Texas legislator who opposes asset forfeiture without conviction, nervous laughter greeted Trump’s quip, “Who is the state senator? Want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.” The Trump immigration ban, challenged in several states by civil libertarians, was heard in a California federal District court yesterday. WH communications staff has tried to pave over Trump’s incendiary statements against the federal judiciary. In a remarkably testy interview with National Public Radio, a former Breitbart national security editor and now deputy assistant to Trump, Sebastian Gorka, said “… journalists have deliberately misrepresented Trump’s intentions, and that on occasion it provides comic relief at the White House.” Gorka said the WH is not in disarray. Yemen, a nation critical to the U.S. efforts to contain terrorism abroad, announced that it would no longer allow U.S. covert operations on its soil, eliminating a critical tool in the military arsenal against terrorism at the same time Trump is ramping up public fear and anxiety about another terror attack on U.S. soil. Although Yemen appeared to act in response to a botched secret U.S. military raid in Yemen — that Trump declared a complete success — in fact, the measure was also taken in response to its being listed among the seven Muslim nations whose nationals would be denied entry to the U.S. under the Trump immigration ban. The NY Times, repeatedly accused by Trump as “failing” despite having recently doubled its subscription base, writes, “The European Union is accustomed to crises. But it is probably safe to say that none of the 28 leaders who are gathering in Malta on Friday expected the crisis that has overtaken the agenda: the United States of America. Like much of the world, the European Union is struggling to decipher a President Trump who seems every day to be picking a new fight with a new nation, whether friend or foe. Hopes among European leaders that Mr. Trump’s bombastic tone as a candidate would somehow smooth into a more temperate one as commander in chief are dissipating, replaced by a mounting sense of anxiety and puzzlement over how to proceed.”
Feb. 7: Challenged on his statement the “dishonest” press under-reports terror attacks, Trump produces a list — filled grammatical errors — omitting attacks perpetrated by white supremacists or hate-crimes against Muslims. Trump accuses the media of under-reporting “for their own reasons”, but fails to provide any evidence. In a lawsuit failed against the Daily Mail, Melania Trump described her position as a “once-in-a-life-time” money making opportunity and her intention to sign “licensing, branding, and endorsement” deals worth millions. Gun violence researchers race to protect data, joining climate change scientists in guarding server farms from being wiped clean by Trump officials. A bipartisan letter from US senators seeks to calm fears in Australia after Trump’s disaster phone call with prime minister. A former US general calls Trump’s throw-away defense of Putin as the “most anti-American statement ever made by a president of the United States”. In Great Britain, the Commons speaker opposes Trump addressing Parliament. Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, faces furious opposition to confirmation as Democrats filibuster confirmation in all-night protest: 5 US Senators ask DeVos to pay her $5.3 million fine for breaking election laws in Ohio. More than 400 current and former EPA staffers write letter opposing confirmation of Trump’s nominee to head the beleaguered agency, Scott Pruitt. Meanwhile, the chief organizing tool to promote GOP political fortunes — repeal of Obamacare — fizzles. Trump says that replacement may not be available until 2018. To Trump’s annoyance, Steve Bannon — his top advisor who inserted himself onto the principals committee of the National Security Council without informing Trump — appears on the cover of Time Magazine.
Feb. 6: It was a quiet weekend, except for Trump protests around the nation and even in Palm Beach and the Mar-a-Largo Mansion where Trump and his wife de-camped by private jet while restive crowds chanted nearby. Trump wants to be loved but he is not. He arrived in Palm Beach on Air Force One and Melania, separately, on another private jet at taxpayer expense. At his club Trump tried calming down after two chaotic weeks. While he was in Palm Beach, hie people in the White House tried catching up and learning where the light switches are. Also, dozens of lawyers around the nation huddled in preparation for this week’s briefings in district court, some preparing to attack and others to defend the Trump immigration ban. Incredible that he hobbled himself in his first act as president. Sad. Instead of being in the owner’s box celebrating his team’s improbable, fantastic Super Bowl victory, Trump was sequestered in his club. Mike Pence was there. Not Trump. He can’t seem to shake the misery of actually being in a job where he can’t trust anyone who isn’t related, especially now that Steve Bannon, according to the New York Times, inserted himself into the principals’ committee of the National Security Council without telling him. What is he going to do now? Shout at the wide screen television while eating his lunch, a perfect hamburger and fries, alone? Trump continues to tweet obsessively about FAKE NEWS! and BAD POLLS! Here is the problem when you allow your prejudices to inform every piece of information that crosses your threshold: sound judgment vanishes into a haze of paranoia through which nothing can emerge independent of one’s own fear and anxieties. When Trump’s own polls show him to be the most unpopular at this point in his presidency, just enough sunlight breaks in to make him truly miserable.
Feb. 4: In a late night Twitter rant, Trump tweeted, “We must keep EVIL out of our country!”.
Feb. 3: “We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually,” Trump said on Thursday at a prayer breakfast in Washington DC. “It’s not going to happen anymore.” Each morning Trump turns on the TV, finds something that scratches his sense of grievance, and tweets. His hair-trigger super id absorbs those around him. Thursday, Trump’s communication advisor KellyAnne Conway defended Trump’s Muslim ban by citing a Bowling Green “massacre” that never happened except in her mind.
The retraction later issued by Conway echoes what Congressional leaders are doing, cleaning up after Trump’s impulse fictions rattle US allies.
Trump sought to calm down the world. He told audiences yesterday not to worry about his “tough” phone calls, but the reaction is having the opposite effect. “I personally wish that he had never run, I told him that, because I actually think this is something that is gonna be detrimental to his mental health,” shock jock radio host Stern said to CNN about Trump, once a frequent guest on his show.
The list of things President Trump has threatened in order to restore his equanimity: science, sanctuary cities, Planned Parenthood, and, now, the University of California at Berkeley.
Before heading to the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, Trump floated the idea of stripping federal funding from Berkeley, where a protest against a scheduled appearance by a Trump stand-in, Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, led to violence. Proxies for Trump’s super id are everywhere.
On Friday, Trump plans to coalesce others’ grievances with his own by axing protections won by American consumers after the financial crisis in 2006 when lax banking rules nearly brought the world economy to its knees. In particular, U.S. banks want the yoke thrown off, to be “too big to fail” again.
“He wants to be liked, he wants to be loved,” Stern said of Trump. No one knows whether Trump is pacing like a caged animal in the Oval Office or if he is even aware top advisor Steve Bannon has set up a shadow National Security Council within the NSC in order to remove any paper trail of its discussions or conclusions.
As a fog of fear and paranoia descends over the Trump WH, the GOP Congress and federal agencies are rapidly moving to see how much they can get away with. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website started to delete references to climate change. The website has been closely watched since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Federal climate plans created under former President Obama, tribal assistance programs, and references to international cooperation have been stricken from the site. A mention of carbon pollution as a cause of climate change has also been removed and adaptation has been emphasized, indicating an attempt to separate the cause of climate change from the response which will likely be to cut funding for science.
The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to overturn a rule aimed at cutting water pollution from coal-mining waste, an Obama regulation cheered by conservationists and condemned by the coal industry as a “job killer”. It was only the second time the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to stop newly minted regulations in their tracks, has been used since it was passed in 2000.
The Senate was scheduled later on Thursday to debate killing a rule requiring companies such as Exxon Mobil to disclose taxes and other payments they make to governments; an amuse bouche to the fossil fuel industry on Rex Tillerson’s first day as Secretary of State.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has asked that dozens of Freedom of Information Act Requests be filled before consideration of Trump EPA pick, Scott Pruitt. Those FOIAs ask for disclosure of contacts between Pruitt and Koch Industries, Peabody Coal, Devon Energy, ALEC, CEI and the State Policy Network. Other requests are for records pertaining to Pruitt’s work soliciting funding for the Republican Attorney Generals Association.
One GOP friendly sportsman user group has had enough. Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers blasted Representative Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, who might have imagined it was time to be rewarded for the key role he played, over many years in Congress, tenderizing opposition to Hillary Clinton and her private use of an email server and the Benghazi issue.
For beating the drum so loudly, Chaffetz thought he would have no resistance in passing a measure his funders want: a path to ownership of federal lands. Chaffetz’ bill, introduced last week, would have ordered the incoming Department of Interior secretary to immediately sell off 3.3 million acres of land in public, national ownership.
“What happened last week was just a small fraction of the ire the sportsman community has been feeling,” Tawney said, reflecting the outrage from hunters and fishermen. Many were Trump supporters.
On Friday, in response to anxiety caused by Trump, the European Union put an ad on Craig’s List, soliciting psychiatric services.
Feb. 2: The White House is a much bigger mess than the world. When China invented global warming, Trump called them out for the “hoax”. Now that water temperatures along the eastern United States are soaring, Trump is threatening to send warships to the South China Sea. Or, is that because China is enforcing its regional dominance through man-made islands? (“Biscayne Bay is freakishly hot, and scientists aren’t sure why,” Miami New Times) Trump called his threat to send US troops to Mexico, a “light hearted” moment. After repeatedly calling the New York Times a “failing” newspaper, the Times today announced its subscribers have doubled since 2016 levels. As a high school student, Trump Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch founded and led a student club called, “Fascism Forever”, a “light hearted” effort to counter liberal faculty at his elite all-boys DC prep school. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary nominee, owns a mind control business whose key feature resembles Stanley Kubrick’s 1970’s “Clockwork Orange”. To Senators voting on her confirmation, DeVos’ family has made campaign contributions of over $1 million. In a “tough” phone call with the prime minister of Australia, Trump hangs up. “Everything runs through Priebus”, Trump orders after Bannon’s awesome “disruptions” like the Muslim ban he drafted without any input from relevant agencies. Trump puts Iran “on notice”, whatever that means. “Don’t worry”, Trump tells the world with respect to “tough phone calls”. Iran dismisses Trump as, “an inexperienced person”. According to The Wall Street Journal, Democrats want to investigate “whether retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, violated the Constitution when he accepted money from a Russian television network that U.S. intelligence officials say is part of a state-funded media apparatus.” Miami-based Trump advisor Roger J. Stone appeared on the same Russian television network, defending Russia from charges it interfered in the Nov. US election. After Trump tweeted a taunt at former California governor Arnold Shchwartzenegger for low ratings on the TV show Trump once hosted, Schwartzenegger replied, “why don’t we change jobs so people can finally sleep at night?”
Feb. 1: Trump delivered on his campaign promise: to nominate a very conservative justice to the USSC. The GOP, who denied President Obama’s pick — Merrick Garland — a Senate hearing for nearly a year, are hoping for a quick confirmation. The New York Times editorial board calls Trump’s pick: “a nomination for a stolen seat”. According to The Palmer Report, Trump advisor Steve Bannon will require Senate confirmation for his role on the National Security Council. Trump asked Liberty University’s president to lead a White House task force dedicated to changing higher education. Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University and a evangelical leader, will head the group charged with reforming the country’s higher education system, Falwell told the Chronicle of Higher Education Tuesday.
Falwell said the task force will work in response to what he says is “overreaching regulation” and micromanagement in higher education. More than 1,000 state department staffers signed a dissent memo to the Trump administration, protesting its immigration ban. Trump fired the acting US Attorney General, Sally Yates, for declining to enforce his ban. Trump complained she “betrayed” him. ISIS posted the ban on its social media, as a recruiting tool.
Jan. 31: Last night, Trump fired the acting US Attorney General Susan Yates who refused to defend his poorly planned immigration ban, published by the White House without input of any federal agencies. A former commissioner of US Border Control expressed shock that agencies had not been consulted, briefed, or received instructions how to administer the Trump ban. “The last thing you want with 60,000 staff and 340 ports of entry is lack of clarity.” Gil Kerlikowske, former commissioner of US Border Control told CNN. The Wall St. Journal editorial page blasted the Trump ban as slipshod. It wrote today as if educating Trump in Civics Lesson 101: “The reaction to the refugee order is also a warning that controversial policy changes can’t merely be dropped on the public like a stun grenade. They need their own extreme internal vetting to make sure everyone knows what’s going on. They need to be sold and explained to the public—again and again. Mr. Trump is right that the government needs shaking up, but the danger of moving too fast without careful preparation and competent execution is that he is building up formidable political forces in opposition. The danger isn’t so much that any single change could be swept away by bipartisan opposition, but that he will alienate the friends and allies at home and abroad he needs to succeed. Political disruption has its uses but not if it consumes your Presidency in the process.” Diplomats in the US State Department are circulating a dissent memorandum for signatures. A morning NPR report said that more than 100 diplomats have signed the dissent memo. In less than two weeks, Trump appears to be increasingly isolated in the White House, surrounded by insiders with no prior experience in government of any kind. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are organizing to filibuster Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court.
Jan. 30: World-wide protests erupt over Trump’s immigration ban including demonstrations at many US airports. Trump supporters say, “Calm down”, but a chaotic transition, followed by mass protests dwarfing the inauguration, then infighting, inconsistency, and tongue-lashings of the press by the White House, then a series of executive orders written by ex-Breitbart ideologues, not reviewed by any qualified agency staff, set the world on edge. White House officials argue that the rollout was a success despite the chaos that followed.
Career state department diplomats are organizing a dissent letter. WH spokesman Spicer challenged diplomats to “get with the program or they can go.”
Los Angeles International Airport yesterday was at a standstill. Demonstrations around the nation spontaneously attracted tens of thousands of people. The web erupted with speculation, roughly organized around two ideas: 1) that Trump is mentally unstable and isolated in the White House by a very small group of right-wing extremists with no experience in government — in other words, incompetent narcissists bungling on a massive scale — and 2) that Trump and his Leninist advisor, Steve Bannon, kicked the hornet’s nest of popular outrage deliberately, to distract from their agenda of forced change. Read: Trial Balloon For A Coup. Meanwhile, Republican members of Congress are quiet and confused; unsure whether to support an executive branch detached from checks and balances or more concerned their own aims will be sunk by Trump.
Jan. 29: Thousands of demonstrators flooded New York JFK international airport. Trump says his immigration plan is working “nicely”.
A federal court stayed part of Trump’s executive order. Almost 200 Google employees were affected by the ban. Green card holders — legal permanent residents of the U.S. — are also included in the ban. A senior Trump administration official says they will need a case-by-case waiver in order to return to the U.S. if they are currently outside the country. Any legal immigrant to the United States is now being vetted more thoroughly than members of Trump’s cabinet.
NBC is reporting that the document was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.) … How incompetent is this order? An immigration lawyer who works for the federal government wrote me today describing the quality of the work as “look[ing] like what an intern came up with over a lunch hour. . . . My take is that it is so poorly written that it’s hard to tell the impact.” from Lawfare, Benjamin Wittes
Jan. 29: In an unprecedented move, Trump placed political advisor Steve Bannon within the top tier of advisors in the national security council and downgraded career military brass including the director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs of staff. Last week, Bannon described the US mainstream media as “the opposition party” and that it should “keep its mouth shut”. Prior to the November election, former Breitbart spokesman Kurt Bardella called Bannon a “pathological liar”.
Jan. 29: The state of California is studying ways to suspend financial transfers to Washington after the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal money from sanctuary cities, KPIX 5 has learned. “California could very well become an organized non-payer,” said Willie Brown, Jr, a former speaker of the state Assembly in an interview recorded Friday for KPIX 5’s Sunday morning news. “They could recommend non-compliance with the federal tax code.”
Jan. 28: Jeffrey H. Wood, a lobbyist for the Southern Company, is the new acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice division that oversees environmental crimes. The Southern Company is a major campaign donor to Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominated Attorney General. Wood was a lobbyist for Southern until last week and, according to The Intercept, “announced only with a modest notice posted on January 23 on the Environment and Natural Resource Division’s website.” Southern Company generates 33 percent of its power from coal. The company provided funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that lobbies state lawmakers to undermine environmental regulations, as well as at least $409,000 to Dr. Willie Wei-Hock Soon, a controversial scientist who doubts that the Arctic is warming.
Jan. 28: Google recalls travelling staff members to the US after an executive order from President Donald Trump restricting entry for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, excluding Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt where Trump has financial interests.
Jan. 28 Trump immigration order ban causes chaos at airports around the world. Inside JFK, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, asked a border agent, “Who is the person we need to talk to?” “Call Mr. Trump,” said the agent, who declined to identify himself.
Jan. 27: In Time Magazine, former Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev says, “it appears the world is headed to war”. The man tipped to be Trump’s ambassador to the European Union says, he wants to help bring it down just like the Soviet Union.
Jan. 27: Trump prepares an executive order to defund contributions to the United Nations, despite the fact that the US contribution to the U.N. is only 1% of the nation’s defense budget.
Jan. 27: A Public Policy poll show a majority of Trump voters support Trump having a private email server, despite the massive outrage and right-wing vilification of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Jan. 27: The first full-blown foreign policy standoff of the Trump administration has taken shape as Mexico cancels meeting with Trump WH over the lie that Mexico will “pay for the wall”.
Jan. 26: The State Department’s entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, The Washington Post reported. #TerraIncognito
Jan 26: In Philadelphia, thousands of protesters gather outside building where GOP Congressional leaders and President Trump meet to discuss killing the Affordable Care Act.
Jan. 26: Breitbart’s Steve Bannon appears to be single-handedly drafting orders signed by Trump, without input of relevant agencies including standard legal review by affected agencies. “President Donald Trump’s team made little effort to consult with federal agency lawyers or lawmakers as they churned out executive actions this week, stoking fears the White House is creating the appearance of real momentum with flawed orders that might be unworkable, unenforceable or even illegal. The White House didn’t ask State Department experts to review Trump’s memorandum on the Keystone XL pipeline, even though the company that wants to build the pipeline is suing the U.S. for $15 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.”
Jan. 26: As a result of Trump White House command to turn off a Twitter feed from Badlands National Park, more than three dozen Twitter feeds have popped up, “alternative” sites staffed by anonymous agency employees, in resistance and opposition to the Trump administration’s efforts to shut down science and fact.
Jan. 26: Citing a new wave of interest in Donald Trump’s Palm Beach Club, Mar-A-Largo, Trump seeks to profit by doubling admission fees, a shameless exercise in the Trump business to profit from the presidency.
Jan. 25: “U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move by the newly minted leadership to erase ex-President Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives.”
Jan. 24: “The Centers for Disease Control postponed a summit scheduled for next month on climate change and public health ahead of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, participants and the CDC confirmed Monday.”
“EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants ― an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things ― and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation.”
Jan. 24: “The Trump White House has also banned employees and scientists at the Department of Agriculture from publicly disclosing any information, according to another email obtained by the AP. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content,” a WH email stated.”
Jan. 24: “JOHN GORE, AN ATTORNEY who has worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, was selected by President Donald Trump to serve as a senior civil rights official at the Department of Justice. Gore’s new role as Trump’s choice for deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is notable because he will lead the division that oversees civil rights laws, including voter suppression issues. Trump and his nominee to lead the Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are strong supporters of voting restrictions such as voter identification.”
Jan. 24: Trump accuses Democrats of sneakily organizing 3-5 million illegal immigrants to vote for Clinton. Somehow Democrats forgot to put 77k of them in the states she needed to win the electoral college! Investigate!
Jan. 24: Senator John McCain asked to comment on Trump’s proposal to go back to Iraq and take its oil. McCain shakes head, laughing: “No. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Jan. 24: After Trump signs an executive order reversing Obama ban on Keystone Pipeline, Badlands National Park @badlandsNPS twitter feed lights up with scientific assertions on climate change. Half an hour later, the “rogue” twitter feed is deleted but not before going viral.