Liveblogging the Trump presidency, one catastrophe at a time.
It seems like today is shaping up to be quieter, too. There’ve been a few rumbling stories in the distance, and it sounds like Sean Spicer had a hot mess of a press conference, but other than that, there’s not much happening.
NEWS: This one actually came out late Friday after I’d closed up shop for the weekend. So, retired Army Lt. General and former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn worked for Turkey via his private intelligence firm, while working for Trump during the campaign (and also possibly after Trump took office; I’m unclear on the exact timeline there). During the campaign, Flynn met with former CIA Director James Woolsey and a bunch of Turkish government officials to talk about how to remove a Muslim cleric residing in the US who was thought to be involved in the attempted coup against Turkish president Erdogan, without taking the cleric through the legal extradition process. That is, to be clear, Flynn discussed kidnapping a dude from the US and delivering him to a dictator who would probably have him killed. (Wall Street Journal)
NEWS: The White House announced today they’re opening an “Office of American Innovation,” a “SWAT team of strategic consultants” that will “[harvest] ideas from the business world and, potentially, [privatize] some government functions.” (Washington Post, TechCrunch)
NEWS: “The US House of Representatives could vote tomorrow on whether to eliminate privacy rules that would have forced ISPs to get your consent before selling Web browsing history and app usage history to advertisers. The Senate voted to kill the rules on Thursday, so all that’s left are decisions by the House and President Donald Trump.” (Ars Technica)
NEWS: Jared Kushner has volunteered to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee for their investigation into the Trump-Russia ties. (New York Times, NPR) Folks have gotten a little fired up and excited up over this, but it’s probably better viewed as a “Look at me, I (we) have nothing to hide!” type of move than anything else.
NEWS: The day before House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes made his big announcement he sort of went missing for awhile, and folks have been pretty keen to find out what was going on there. Turns out he was apparently on White House grounds, meeting his contact to view further confirming information in a secure location. (CNN, Bloomberg, NPR, Politico)
- RELATED: Senator Mark Warner, leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the whole thing still seems suspicious. He says Democrats still haven’t been briefed on the information Nunes claims to have seen, and that the intelligence community doesn’t know what information Nunes is talking about. (Politico)
- RELATED: “A ‘credible’ investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian officials cannot happen with Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) at the helm, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Monday.” (TPM)
- RELATED: “New and confusing details are slowly emerging about the source of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’ declaration last week that Trump transition aides had been inadvertently picked up by intelligence surveillance — and the White House doesn’t appear eager to clear up its role.” (Politico)
NEWS: Democrats have forced a one week delay on the Gorsuch confirmation vote, and claim they still plan to filibuster. (NBC News)
NEWS: After getting their butts kicked on healthcare, the GOP is going after tax reform. Tax reform is going to be a lot harder now that they haven’t got their healthcare plans in place, though. “The grand plans of lower rates, fewer loopholes and a tax on imports may have to be scaled back to a big corporate tax cut and possibly an individual tax cut.” (New York Times)
NEWS: “State and local governments seeking Justice Department grants must certify they are not so-called sanctuary cities in order to receive the money, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday.” (The Hill, Also: AP, NPR)
- RELATED: “New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and dozens of legislators from around the country are dismissing the Trump administration’s threat to cut millions of dollars in federal funding from sanctuary cities as an illegal maneuver to bully cities into enforcing immigration law, even as Attorney General Jeff Sessions aired that threat Monday from the White House.” (Politico)
- EXPLAINER: “The Trump administration has rarely been cautious — especially when it comes to immigration policy. But its fight to defund ‘sanctuary cities,’ formally launched by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday, might be an exception.” (Vox)
NEWS: The stock market took a big dump this morning due to Republicare getting shut down so hard. Apparently businesses are not as sure Trump can get anything done as they were last week. (ABC News)
NEWS: Trump promised to grow the economy 3% to 4%. A new survey shows that while the economy should grow through 2018, it’ll be at around 2.3% this year and 2.5% next year. (AP)
NEWS: Trump named Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor, a special adviser on regulatory matters. His job has been to tackle an old EPA rule regulating the way corn-based ethanol is mixed in with regular fuel. It turns out that Icahn is also “a majority investor in CVR Energy, an oil refiner based in Sugar Land, Tex., that would have saved $205.9 million last year had the regulatory fix he is pushing been in place.” This is causing a bit of concern from the ethics folks, as you might imagine. (New York Times)
NEWS: The Independent reported over the weekend that Trump gave German chancellor Angela Merkel a $300 billion dollar bill for what he claims NATO owes the US. The White House said this didn’t happen. (CNBC, The Independent) While this seems like exactly the tacky sort of thing Trump might do as a power play, I don’t entirely trust The Independent, so maybe take this one with a grain of salt.
- UPDATE: Yep, Politico squashed this story. Here.
NEWS: Trump rolled back some more Obama-era regulations today: Two that deal with “how states assess school performance and teacher preparation programs,” one that “eliminates the so-called blacklisting rule that requires contractors to report alleged labor law violations that have yet to be fully adjudicated in order to bid on federal contracts,” and a “a Bureau of Land Management rule that aimed to regulate land management decisions.” (AP)
NEWS: A Russian state bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB), says it met with Jared Kushner last year “as part of ‘road show’ discussions with representatives of leading financial institutions in Europe, Asia and the United States. It said the meetings focused on global development banks’ strategies and perspective sectors.” (AP)
NEWS: “A group of First Amendment attorneys sued the Trump administration on Monday over access to data showing how often U.S. citizens and visitors had their electronic devices searched and the contents catalogued at American border crossings.” (AP)
ANALYSIS: “There were so many reasons for the failure of the Republicans’ health care bill — and its failure was so spectacular — that it’s hard to tell which ones mattered most.” (FiveThirtyEight)
FACT CHECK: NPR goes over the reasons why the ACA is not “exploding,” as Trump claims it is. Read it here.
EXPLAINER: “Who Oversees The President’s Ethics?” NPR has a list and explanations. Read it here.
QUOTE: “There’s not any argument at this stage that somehow the election of President Trump was not legitimate, but there’s no question that there was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic, fundamental democratic processes. In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war.” Former Vice President and Sith Lord Dick “Darth” Cheney. (Politico)
SEAN SPICER SHOW: Today Sean Spicer implied that Trump would consider working with Democrats on healthcare improvements, that the White House isn’t concerned that Nunes is getting his information from a leak in the Executive Branch, that the GOP isn’t done with healthcare yet, that the big healthcare fiasco on Friday was a sign of how good Trump was at dealmaker because he “knew when to walk away,” and that Trump is eager for some legislative wins. (TPM: 1, 2, 3 | Politico: 1, 2, 3 | Axios)
NEWS: Roger Stone, former Trump flunky, claims to have back channel access to Wikileaks. Wikileaks says he does not. It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on there, since you can’t believe a word of what either party says. (TPM)
NEWS: “The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee is accusing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin of violating federal ethics law by publicly promoting the film LEGO Batman, which his own company produced.” (TPM)
NEWS: “The Pentagon is reportedly considering ramping up US support for Saudi Arabia’s bloody war in Yemen, which has already killed at least 10,000, displaced 3 million, and left millions more at risk of famine since it began in March 2015.” (Vox)
BACKGROUND: Vox has a nice overview of Vladimir Putin’s history. Read it here.
NEWS: “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told Republican donors Monday that he intends to continue pushing for an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system by working ‘on two tracks’ as he also pursues other elements of President Trump’s agenda.” (Washington Post)
NEWS: Facebook is officially launching its “Town Hall,” a method for contacting government reps that also offers local election reminders. (TechCrunch) This is really only tangentially related to what I’m trying to do with the Trumpster Fire, but it still might turn out handy now that activism is such a big part of what’s fueling America these days.
Looking for old Trumpster Fires. Look here.