Monday, July 24, 2017

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Legislation Edition

UPDATE:  "We have a president whose North Star is naked self-interest, not the good of the country. Trump cares about his family, his company and little else. He dishonors the high office he holds, then reportedly spends hours each day railing against cable-news coverage that he finds insufficiently respectful. His ego is a kind of psychic black hole that devours all who come into its orbit."

Read the Washington Post, This country deserves much better than Trump.

Sorry, I disagree. The country had a choice in the election, it deserves who it voted for.

"To hear President Trump tell it, his first six months in the White House should be judged in part by the legislation he has signed into law.

At rallies, in speeches and on Twitter, Mr. Trump repeatedly boasts of the bills he has signed — 42 as of this week. He has said no president has 'passed more legislation,' conceding once earlier this year that he trails Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he notes 'had a major Depression to handle.'

On Monday, he went even further, claiming to have bested all of his predecessors in turning bills into law.

'We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever,' Mr. Trump said at a 'Made in America' event at the White House. 'For a while, Harry Truman had us. And now, I think, we have everybody.'

Turning to Vice President Mike Pence, he added an aside about news media fact-checkers: 'I better say ‘think’; otherwise they will give you a Pinocchio. And I don’t like Pinocchios.'

In fact, as he approaches six months in office on Thursday, Mr. Trump is slightly behind the lawmaking pace for the past six presidents, who as a group signed an average of 43 bills during the same period. And an analysis of the bills Mr. Trump signed shows that about half were minor and inconsequential, passed by Congress with little debate. Among recent presidents, both the total number of bills he signed and the legislation’s substance make Mr. Trump about average.

President Jimmy Carter signed 70 bills in the first six months, according to an analysis of bills signed by previous White House occupants. Bill Clinton signed 50. George W. Bush signed 20 bills into law. Barack Obama signed 39 bills during the period, including an $800 billion stimulus program to confront an economic disaster, legislation to make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, a bill to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco and an expansion of the federal health insurance program for children.

Mr. Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt both had signed more bills into law by their 100-day mark than Mr. Trump did in almost twice that time. Truman had signed 55 bills and Roosevelt had signed 76 during their first 100 days."

Read The New York Times, Trump Says He Has Signed More Bills Than Any President, Ever. He Hasn’t.

Remember: it's all 'bout the show, 'bout the show, stupid people!!! (Repeat til you get it).

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt.

UPDATE IX:  Could Mueller exonerate Trump?

Possibly, but "[t]hat’s the least likely outcome after Trump has fired former FBI director James B. Comey and threatened the special counsel. Why would he do those things unless there was something really, really bad to find? And if there is something bad, Mueller will find it. You can understand then why Trump sounds frantic. In no scenario does Trump’s presidency recover."

Read the Washington Post, This presidency can’t be saved. It’s all downhill from here.

UPDATE VIII:  "Here's a quick summary of where the White House has pushed the boundaries with its moves toward Russia thus far. . .

1. The Syria decision . . .

2. Possibly returning Russia's U.S. compounds . . .

3. Sharing classified information with top Russian officials in the Oval Office . . .

4. Playing down Putin's human rights abuses . . ."

Read the Washington Post, Here’s what President Trump has done for Russia.
UPDATE VII:  "Trump and his legal team have at least sought to understand how Trump could pardon not just those around him, but also himself. Doing the former would cause major political upheaval; doing the latter would take us into uncharted territory both legally and for our republic, given a president has never attempted to pardon himself. . .

A president attempting to pardon himself would certainly qualify [as a constitutional crisis]; Trump trying to fire Mueller unilaterally — as the White House has suggested he can — would seem to fit the bill as well.

On the surface, that looks a whole lot like Trump being very concerned about what might become of [Mueller's investigation]. If he's done nothing wrong, after all, why not let the investigation play out and let the evidence speak for itself?"

Read the Washington Post, Does President Trump want a constitutional crisis?

Read also the Washington Post, Are we heading towards a constitutional crisis?

UPDATE VI: The Donald really, really wants to hide something. What could it be? ;)

"Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves."

Read the Washington Post, Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The Donald is apparently "irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns."

Read also the Washington Post, Asking about a pardon for himself is a quintessentially Trumpian move.

UPDATE V:  "In the normal course of events, the revelation of attempted collusion with Russia to determine the outcome of a presidential election might cause an administration to overcorrect in the other direction. A president might find ways to confront the range of Russian aggression, including cyber-aggression, if only to avoid the impression of being bought and sold by a strategic rival.

But once again, President Trump — after extended personal contact with Vladimir Putin and the complete surrender to Russian interests in Syria — acts precisely as though he has been bought and sold by a strategic rival. The ignoble cutoff of aid to American proxies means that “Putin won in Syria,” as an administration official was quoted by The Post. Concessions without reciprocation, made against the better judgment of foreign policy advisers, smack more of payoff than outreach. If this is what Trump’s version of “winning” looks like, what might further victory entail? The re- creation of the Warsaw Pact? The reversion of Alaska to Russian control?

There is nothing normal about an American president’s subservience to Russia’s interests and worldview. It is not the result of some bold, secret, Nixonian foreign policy stratagem — the most laughable possible explanation. Does it come from Trump’s bad case of authoritarianism envy? A fundamental sympathy with European right-wing, anti-democratic populism? An exposure to pressure from his checkered financial history? There are no benign explanations, and the worst ones seem the most plausible." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s breathtaking surrender to Russia.

UPDATE IV:  "President Trump has declared the Russia investigation to be a 'witch hunt' and a 'hoax,' but he sure seems to be concerned about all the people who are leading it. . .

Trump has now repeatedly attacked the people tasked with overseeing federal law enforcement's Russia probe. . .

The trend here is clear. If you are going to investigate Trump, you better be prepared for him to try to send a message or undermine you. Precisely why he feels the need to send that message is the big question."

Read the Washington Post, Trump has now attacked basically everyone in charge of the Russia investigation.

The answer to the question of why The Donald attacks the investigation of his Russian connections and everyone involved is simple: The Donald knows that the investigation will find that he has been financially compromised, and possibly more, by Putin.

UPDATE III:  "Trump’s frustration over Sessions’s refusal to violate ethical standards stands out as further evidence that for Trump, loyalty is everything. Ethical and legal boundaries do not register with him; indeed, his loyal underlings are expected to disregard such niceties to protect him. Nothing better underscores his unfitness for office. He did, after all, take an oath to faithfully execute the laws, not to use government lawyers to shield him from inquiry. That concept is foreign to Trump, who sees the FBI and Justice Department as his supplicants. . .

Trump’s presidency is sinking into the quicksand of the Russia investigation. The more he decries his tormentors, the more support he provides for their investigation. Who can doubt that he was determined to stop the Russia investigation? In lashing out at prosecutors, he commits new acts of intimidation, vainly hoping to curtail their inquiry.

The entire fiasco (in addition to Trumpcare’s failure) is devouring the presidency. Trump — not Sessions, Comey, Mueller or Rosenstein — is solely to blame for his predicament. His grave mistake was thinking that he could avoid scrutiny, just as he has done for decades in a privately held, family business.

So, how is 'Made in America Week' going?

Read the Washington Post, A wounded Trump lashes out over the Russia probe.

Read also the Washington Post, No, President Trump, Sessions’s recusal is not ‘very unfair’ to you. This is Ethics 101., which noted:

What Trump perceives as betrayal is Ethics 101. . .

Who remains Trump’s chief problem, and for that reason perhaps his ultimate target. 'He was up here, and he wanted the job,' Trump said of interviewing Mueller about the possibility of resuming his former role as FBI director. . .

This is the essence of Trump — exquisitely sensitive to conflicts, real or perceived, when they may work against him; resolutely obtuse to the imperative of independence when unquestioning loyalty better serves his needs."

UPDATE II: The Donald knows that the investigation will find that he has been financially compromised, and possibly more, by Putin.

Which is why, in a New York Times interview, "Trump said clearly that if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is examining his family’s finances, he would view that as an abuse of his role."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s deeply worrisome New York Times interview reveals a lawless president.

It also explains why The Donald has never released his tax returns.

UPDATE: "Walter M. Shaub Jr., the recently departed director of the Office of Government Ethics, offered a startling revelation on CNN this morning. He recounted that a few months into President Trump’s term, the president’s lawyer asked Shaub if Trump could file his federal financial disclosure forms without signing them. The signature certifies that the list of financial holdings, assets and liabilities disclosed in the form is “true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge,” and Trump’s lawyer apparently sought to find out whether Trump could avoid certifying that. . .

The incident he recounted demonstrates the Trump White House’s willingness to brazenly skirt the ethics standards that his predecessors in both parties have adhered to for decades. . .

Shaub’s revelation about Trump’s lawyer’s request that Trump not sign his disclosure form may seem like a small thing. But in retrospect, it’s not hard to see that as a foreshadowing of much of the flouting of transparency we’ve seen since. And the consequences of it extend beyond Trump’s profiting off his golf courses or hotels. We can now see that there is a web of secrets about the growing Russia scandal. On this matter, Trump wants the public to take his statements that it’s 'fake news' or a 'hoax' at face value. His own conduct makes that impossible, and there’s no telling how bad it could get from here."
Read the Washington Post, A veteran ethics watchdog just revealed something striking about Trump and transparency.

Why is The Donald so obsessed with, and afraid of, Robert Mueller's investigation?

"Trump has been intertwined with Russian interests and actors for decades. While the possibility of campaign collusion is what started this scandal, the financial connections between Trump and Russia may wind up being just as important. 

In case you missed it, that eighth attendee was one Ike Kaveladze, an associate of Emin and Aras Agalarov (the Russian pop singer and his oligarch father who were friendly with the Trumps). Some years ago, Kaveladze was the subject (but never charged) of an inquiry into an enormous money-laundering scheme that involved setting up hundreds of bank accounts and thousands of shell corporations in Delaware on behalf of shady Russians. As Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) put it: “I doubt if this individual who had a history of setting up thousands of fake accounts in Delaware was really there to talk about Russian adoptions.” Good guess.

So you had a lawyer with Kremlin connections, a former Russian intelligence official (though as they say, there’s no such thing as a “former” Russian intelligence official) and a man once suspected of being involved in money-laundering, all coming to peddle dirt on Hillary Clinton, a possibility so enticing that it led the candidate’s son, his son-in-law and closest adviser, and his campaign chairman to all come to a meeting with them. The latest version the Trump camp tells about the meeting is that the promised Clinton dirt was not forthcoming, and so the meeting didn’t last long. But given that they started out by lying about it — saying it just concerned Russian adoptions and hiding who was in attendance — there’s ample reason to be skeptical about whether we’ve yet gotten the whole truth.

What we do know, however, is that it makes perfect sense that the Russians would have had an in with the Trump family to begin with, because Trump’s financial connections to Russia are old and deep. . .

[W]hat is most certainly also true is that Russians have lots of investments in Trump. In fact, the amount of money that Russian oligarchs and alleged mobsters have put into Trump’s pockets over the years goes into the hundreds of millions of dollars. . .

Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation has the resources it needs and won’t be deterred by the spin from the White House and Fox News that this is all much ado about nothing. Among other things, Mueller will probably pry from Trump what he worked so hard to conceal: Not just his tax returns as specific documents, but also the secrets and revelations contained therein, wherever they might lead. In the end, it may all turn out to be squeaky-clean. But I wouldn’t bet on it."

Read the Washington Post, With Trump and Russia, it’s all about the money.

Read also:

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent?,

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont.),

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont., Part 2),

Trump's Big CON: What's He Hiding: Is Trump a Russian Agent? (Cont., Part 3),

Trump's Big CON: The Comey Conspiracy and Russian Agent Coverup,

Trump's Big CON: The Comey Conspiracy and Russian Agent Coverup by the Republi-CON Party (Cont.),

Trump's Big CON: BREAKING NEWS: The Donald is a Russian Agent, and

Trump's Big CON: BREAKING NEWS: The Donald Knew About His Son's Meeting With the Russian Agent, and It's Purpose.